The Forest and The ‘Faustian’ Soul

Originally Published at The Imaginative Conservative

Deep roots are untouched by frost. —J.R.R Tolkien

It has been said that the Germanic soul and the forest are one and the same thing: the mythological Forest that contrasts the splendid isolation of man in his solitude against the infinity of nature. Only this kind of soul could have such a word in its language as Waldeinsamkeit—”Forest-loneliness”—just as one of the most moving passages in Western literature is the Easter scene in Goethe’s Faust: “A longing pure and not to be described/drove me to wander over woods and fields/and in a mist of hot abundant tears/I felt a world arise and live for me.” Northern legends have been built around certain species of trees—firs, ash, oak, elm—and in the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich, the representative of German Romanticism at its height, dense walls of magnificent trees dwarf a lone Napoleonic soldier—a metaphorical relationship that is withdrawn, fortress-like, dark and impenetrable. The fairy tales of the Brothers Grimm all took place in the woods, while Siegfried, Parsifal, Tristan, Hamlet, Faust—those quintessentially Northern heroes—all longed for the woods in which their inner lives were awakened. Oswald Spengler, the maniacally erudite German historian, wrote in his Untergang des Abenlandes(“Decline of the West”) of the northern “longing for the woods; the mysterious compassion, the ineffable sense of forsakenness” and compared “Faustian” man—his Western ideal—with the Classical men of Antiquity, writing that “the rustle of the woods, a charm that no Classical poet ever felt, stands with its secret questions—whence, whither?”

The Forest: so invigorating and baptismal, suffused with those Goethean echoes that reverberate the lyrical tristesse of the high-minded loner; its contemplative splendor broken only by an occasional spray of sun-rays, like “fitful light-flecks playing in their shadow-filled volume,” as writes our Dr. Spengler. Indeed, if God made man in His image, one may say that Nature had her say and added three elements of her own: the Sea, the Stone and, above all, the Forest. The Sea—representing that which is rational, clear, enlightened in a man’s soul; Stone—to express his need to give shape to history, experience and memory. But most profoundly, the Forest—the darkness within him; a silent summons from deep within the murmur of trees giving rise to a man’s discovery of his own, authentic voice.

For Spengler, Classical man was the Apollonian—an individual, static entity, for whom History is mythological, anecdotal, ever-present. He is city-states, public life, political life, Doric and Euclidean. The “anxious, caring” Faustian, on the other hand, who “blossomed forth with the birth of the Romanesque style,” is forever tending-towards and looking-back; he is perspective depth in painting, he is the irrepressible discoverer of continents and the explorer of ocean floors. The Apollonian “is the nude statue; the Faustian the art of the Fugue;” in art, the former is calculated contours; the latter—light and shade. The Apollonian is Delphi, Olympus, and Elysium; the Faustian is Valhalla, Avalon, and the Grail. The Apollonian sees himself in Homeric epic; the Faustian in the Gallilean, Catholic, and Protestant; he is shaped by Baroque dynasties, Dante’s Beatrice, and… Faust. (There is, too, a third civilization-soul, the Magian, belonging to Judaic-Islamic and “Oriental” cultures). Faustian man is, in sum, the Forest, “restless and unsatisfied,” like an oak “straining beyond its summit” or a linden tree, which between sun and shadow is “bodiless, boundless, spiritual.”

The Forest, expressed as the soul of the West, takes shape in the highest creations of art, religious architecture, music, literature, and in the Western sense of Destiny and Duration—the “rootedness” of a man’s spirit, family, and legacy. In architecture, the great forests of the northern plains, wrote Spengler, were the inspiration for cathedrals, their interiors mixed with mysterious light, “the endless, lonely, twilight wood… the secret wistfulness of all Western building forms.” In his work, Le Genie du Christianisme(“The Genius of Christianity”), the 19th-century French writer, Chateaubriand, attributed the development of Gothic cathedrals to worship under tree arches. The French sacred-art historian, Emile Mâle, evoking the dramatic relationship of that architecture to the works of Nature, wrote that “the cathedral, like the plain or forest, has atmosphere and perfume, splendor and twilight… and gloom.”

The Forest is classical music: There is Siegfried—the hero who never knew Fear—born in the forest and killed in them, whose glorious Rheinfahrt in Act One of theGötterdammerung seems to bring the listener in, layer after layer, deeper into a pitch-black world of clan-loyalties, blood-ties, soil, and seed—all within a cavernous labyrinth of Wald. There is the high Romanticism of Carl von Weber’s magisterial Der Freischutz, a ghost-story opera of a huntsman, his bride, and the Devil that takes place during the Thirty Years’ War. That work’s famously frightening “Wolf Glen” scene is a twenty-minute excursion into sylvan ecstasy that one British critic from The Timessaid must be heard “late at night, with the lights off, and no more than a glow from the amplifier panel.” Even the shape of a Church high-organ, the invention of which is one of the most emotional chapters in the history of Western music, is, Spengler writes, “a history of a longing for the Forest, a longing to speak in the language of that true temple of the Western soul.” And I challenge anyone to listen to Elizabeth Schwarzkopf sing Richard Strauss’ “Morgen” and not see a lush mist breaking over a crusader castle-ruin, one fortified by woods, but vulnerable to troubadors….

The Forest is literature: For the deeply spiritual Bohemian-Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke, God was not to be found in painting, sculpture, or icons, but living on in the dark woods, to be portrayed “not with lapis or gold, but color made of apple bark.” In his beautiful Stundenbuch (“Book of Hours”), Rilke writes in a series of love letters to God: “Often I imagine you, your wholeness cascades into many shapes. You run like a herd of luminous deer and I am dark. I am forest.” Robert Musil, the cranky and brilliant Austrian author behind Der Mann Ohne Eigenschaften (“The Man Without Qualities”), in contemplating human relations, writes of “love, this ancient forest of eccentricity.” Ernst Jünger used forest-symbolism to take a philosophical-political approach against Nazism, Communism and what he saw as the totalitarian tendencies of modern Democracy in his 1951 work, Der Waldgang (“The Forest Passage”), writing of the “forest rebel”—the individual who, “isolated and uprooted” by the State, seeks to preserve his freedom in a totalitarian world by finding shelter in the forest. As for inward journeys seeking shelter—whether ideological or purely emotional—who can forget the captivating first line of Dante’s Inferno: “When I had journeyed half of our life’s way/I found myself within a shadowed forest/for I had lost the path that does not stray…”?

Northern mythology is, of course, the ancient precursor to such literary forest-imagery. Deep in the Black Forest, the noble Fürstenburg family resides and decades ago purchased from the then-impoverished German state the original Nibelungenlied, the epic poem of the North, one also born in the woods. In Scandinavian epic, the Poetic Eddas, the Norse god, Odin, hangs himself from the great ash tree, Yggdrasil, for nine days and nights trying to acquire supreme power. One of the recurring symbols in German, Austrian, and Swiss Christian mythology is that of St. Hubertus, the hunter redeemed by a holy stag with a Cross between its antlers. Today, the sets of antlers one often sees above the front doors of villas and jagdhüte in German-speaking Europe are not hunting trophies as is commonly thought but representations of this Christian legend.

Why the German-speaking countries are so attached to their woods may be traced back to the legend of the Battle of Teutoburg as described by Tacitus in his history, Germania, when the soldiers of Arminius used the camoflauge of trees to distract the Romans, unhabituated to forests as these latter were, using surprise, guerilla-like attacks from the forests. Even the German word for “Western”—Abendland, or “Evening Land”—denotes the forest: height and maturity, as opposed to a developing country, called aMorgenland.

Then, too, there is Russia, with its own brand of Northern mythology and an intense forest-consciousness. As historian and Librarian of Congress James Billington wrote in his classic, The Icon and the Axe, the Russian Bear, according to legend, was originally a man who had been denied the traditional bread and salt of human friendship, and in revenge took on a new shape and retreated to the forest to guard against intrusions of humans, his former species. Leonoid Leonov’s great novel of the mid-fifties, The Russian Forest, describes how the Soviet regime played a central role in cutting down the forest, as it was a symbol of Old Russian culture.

The Forest is also history: There is the famous Castle Road leading out from Burgenland, the easternmost province of Austria, to Semmering, just south of Vienna, westward into Styria and to Carinthia, where among eighteen fortresses and castles one will come across Schloss Schalling, the “Castle of the Devils,” sitting reclusively, warily, within a rich Styrian forest, where one day in the 13th century two Babenberg princes translated the Magna Carta into High German. Then there is Burg Stubegg, a fortress another ten miles south, where Crusader knights chose to recuperate because the wines produced there were thought to be Heaven-sent. Any of these travels will certainly take one past the many castles of the Princes of Liechtenstein, themselves among the largest owners of forests in Europe and Latin America, whose princely dominions have guarded and guard the world’s greatest private collection of art.

But most of all, the Forest is the rootedness of life, it is Destiny—therefore, Time—for Faustian man, no matter his origin. As Spengler puts it, “nobility and peasantry are plant-like and instinctive, deep-rooted in ancestral land, propagating themselves in the family tree, breeding and being bred.” In aristocratic Mitteleuropa, the Forest became the means by which to preserve the long-term, in wealth and family. There was a famous “Fürstenspiegel” or “Mirror of Princes”—those classic instruction manuals for the education of a monarch, born in the kingdoms of Persia and written well into the European 19th century—that instructed Germanic princes on this very subject. Fürst (Prince) Gundaker von und zu Liechtenstein, in his Instructio et Consilium Pro Principe Regente of 1653, proposed an abstract theory on the relationship between land and longevity, time and money. “Das Geld ist sanguis corporis politici”—Money is the blood of the body politic—he wrote in the work’s preface, and no good prince, Holy Roman Empire-bred or otherwise, ever strayed from that awareness. This meant a firm tie to forested land which was, and remains to this day, the enterprise of choice for those old families: “Virgin forests turned into financial energy; the slumbering spirits of gold awakened in enterprise,” wrote Spengler (once more) in his beautiful formulation. Or, as Prince Gundaker remarks: “Timber, salt mines, gold, silver, quicksilver, copper and iron—these are Nature’s gift to the Intelligent.” His Fürstenspiegel further warns: “The prince should always make sure his financial situation is better than any rival, and should see to it that no other nobility has a greater financial reserve as he does.” Certainly his family name lived up to such promise from the woods that they owned.

But perhaps the most poignant example of this Faustian tie to land as the basis of family, wealth and History is to be told in the journey of one of the great woods of Europe from the pinnacle of vibrancy and production to utter modern-day waste and ruin. It was one day, around three hundred years ago, in the early-18th century, that Emperor Charles VI offered a distinguished old German family a large swathe of land in the Habsburg Kingdom of Croatia- Slavonia (modern Croatia and a part of Serbia) for militaryDienst (service) against invading Ottoman armies. The far-sighted noble family—the Eltz of the woods-rich Rhein—declined the offer as a gift, as they wished to stay Reichsfrei (“free” of the Emperor’s political and financial conditions), offering instead to by the land from his Imperial Majesty on the condition that the land be composed of the right soil—the palaces, titles, trimmings, etc. that would have come with ownership of that land were of little concern. A member of the family went to examine the soil, noting how it poured loosely through his fingers, was grainy and silky, sticking together but not clumping, forming a loose ribbon of earth.

It was a rich, loamy loess (a kind of sediment) soil—”that could feed the whole of Europe,” as has been said of that fertile land—born to a calcareous terrain rich in clay and well-supplied with calcium. It was a soil rare in Europe—a mild balance of opposing elements in a region of Europe used to extremes in more sense than one. This black earth was the product of the so-called “Pannonian” climate, one known for its stark summer heat and bitter winters, creating some of Europe’s best agriculture and… its very greatest oaks. The young man immediately recognized he had, literally in his hands, the makings of a great forestry industry—a mere two centuries down the line. And sure enough, by the mid-19th century, one hundred sixty years after their first oak harvest had been cultivated, the family emerged as one of the richest in Central Europe, their estate crowned by a stunning yellow and white baroque palace, as well as the original breeding grounds of the famous all-white Lippizzaner horses. The family had turned the soil of Slavonia into one of the most sought-after woods in the world—until, that is, the family was driven out and the woods, the oaks, the soil, and the palace were confiscated in part after World War I and then completely after World War II. Only the horses survived, having been sent out of the country in time to Austria, where they are still trained with the Eltz coat of arms on their pure silver bridles. The land fell into such ruin by the second decade of the 20th century that many of that land’s diverse new communal-owners—recipients of Socialist largesse—begged the family back to take up its management; the family declined. Only a picture of their palace on the back of the largest currency note in former-Yugoslavia remained as acknowledgement of what that family, blue-blooded but with love of forest coursing through their veins, once meant to the region.

“Here I am a Man. Here, I dare to be!” wrote Goethe of his beloved dreamscape excursions into the woods. That sense of “Being” is what the Forest is all about to the Faustian: the Mystery that inspires imagination—the most intense Reality that there is.

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Right-Wing Gramscism

Whose Gramsci? Right-wing Gramscism

Rob van Kranenburg

We are in the proces of losing our foremost thinker of and on concrete historical scenarios, Antonio Gramsci, to a reactionary right-wing cause. Gramsci himself has become entangled in a position to which he had given much thought, namely, Ceasarism. Ceasarism can be said to express a situation in which the forces in conflict balance each other in a catastrophic manner: But Ceasarism “does not in all cases have the same historical significance. There can be both progressive and reactionary forms of Ceasarism; the exact significance of each form can, in the last analysis, be reconstructed only through concrete history, and not by means of any sociological rule of thumb. Ceasarism is progressive when its intervention helps the progressive force to triumph, albeit with its victory tempered by certain compromise and limitations. It is reactionary when its intervention helps the reactionary force to triumph, in this case too with certain compromises and limitations, which have however, a different value, extent and significance than in the former.”[1]

Although Gramsci makes it very clear that Caesarism is “a polemical ideological formula, and not a canon of historical interpretation” (220), that “a Caesarist solution can exist even without a Caesar, without any great, ‘heroic’ and representative personality” (220), we may well add Gramsci’s own name to his very own list which included Caesar, Napoleon I, Napoleon III, and Cromwell, to name but a few. Tony Bennett wrote a decade ago that, “It is always tempting these days and especially at the end of long essays to wheel out Gramsci as a ‘hey-presto’ man, as the theorist who holds the key to all our current theoretical difficulties.” [2] Nevertheless his ‘hey-presto’ qualities seem to have faded somewhat in the progressive positions in cultural studies; but not, unfortunately, however, in extremely right-wing circles where his fundamental notion of hegemony is being hailed as a politically effective and productive way of gaining influence and political power. This seems to me to be one of the foremost fundamental productive questions in cultural studies: to what extent is Gramsci’s notion of hegemony politically neutral, and if so to what extent are we willing to let it be compromised? Not only is Gramsci misunderstood, as in the new elitist focus of McGuigan who blames the uncritical embracement of mass consumption on the hegemony theorists who have closed their eyes to an economic grounding of all cultural production, a position which can be easily refuted within Gramsci’s own framework: [END PAGE 14]

Can there be cultural reform, and can the position of the depressed strata of society be improved culturally, without a previous economic reform and a change in their position in the social and economic fields? Intellectual and moral reform has to be linked with a programme of economic reform indeed the programme of economic reform is precisely the concrete form in which every intellectual and moral reform presents itself. [3]

But within the progressive framework of cultural studies, his concept of hegemony is questioned as well, especially because “there are problems with distinguishing hegemony theory from the dominant ideology thesis; [4] the feminist perspective does “not accept such a privileging of capitalism over patriarchy as the determinate structure of ideological relations,” and ethnic

studies claims that ” the national-popular concept is in danger of suppressing specific dynamics of black and ethnic struggles” [5]. Moreover, “the problems of reconciling it [hegemony] with a theory of pleasure are insurmountable” [6].

Unfortunately, the French Nouvelle Droite movement headed by Alain DeBenoist, and the Flemish extremely right political party Het Vlaams Blok have no such insurmountable problems whatsoever with Gramsci’s notion of hegemony. On the contrary, they use it to their utmost ability and they’re not being shy about it. The Nouvelle Droite was founded as an ideological perspective in the mid- sixties by the French theorist Alain de Benoist. Ironically, it is inspired as an active movement by Gramsci’s Quaderni del carcere, and it literally calls the metapolitical struggle for cultural hegemony the Gramscism of the Right. I was first confronted with this rightwing theft of Gramsci by the journalistic writings of Marc Spruyt, who has since published a much needed, clear and precise account of rightwing party (meta)politics [7]. His book surely ought to be translated into English, especially given the specific French and Belgian context within which Gramsci is (mis)used in this manner. The lack of a translation enables the otherwise extensive works about Gramsci to completely miss this development: for example, Paul Ransome’s Antonio Gramsci: A New Introduction (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1992). Moreover, Ransome’s very last words in the conclusion now become ominous:

To the extent that Gramsci’s ideas provide Marxism with a new degree of flexibility and adaptability, it is likely that his influence will be felt for some time to come. Gramsci it seems has not been “relegated to the attic”.

This conclusion about “adaptablity” acquires a very different and altogether uncomfortable dimension if we become aware whose attic it is that we may be speaking about. Gramsci’s notes on hegemony in his prison writings are spread out throughout his text, deeply imbedded not infrequently within concrete historial situations and events as his was no disinterested academic exercise but a genuine attempt to understand the elements of a triumphant Italian fascism. We would however, not misrepresent him if we take his notion of hegemony to mean that in between [END PAGE 15] forced consent and active dissent we find passive consent, that cultural change precedes political change, and that changes must connect to an audience that is ready to respond. As Gramsci notes, “the supremacy of a social group manifests itself in two ways, as ‘domination’ and as ‘intellectual and moral leadership’. A social group dominates antagonistic groups, which it tends to ‘liquidate’, or to subjugate perhaps even by armed force; it leads kindred and allied groups. A social group can, and indeed must, already exercise ‘leadership’ [hegemony] before winning governmental power (this indeed is one of the principal conditions for the winning of such power); it subsequently becomes dominant when it exercises power, but even if it holds it firmly in its grasp, it must continue to ‘lead’ as well.[8]

Gramsci’s notion of hegemony, or rather on how hegemony is procured, is literally restated by the leader of the reactionary Het Vlaams Blok, Filip Dewinter: “The ideological majority is more important than the parliamentary majority, the former actually almost always precedes the latter” [9]. The theft of Gramsci by the Nouvelle Droite becomes especially unseemly in the case of the extreme right wing Flemish organization, Were Di, which finds its inspiration in the views of the Nouvelle Droite for three axiomatic foundations: “hereditary inequality, hierarchic society, elitist organisation” [10]. Now I will not overstate my case in claiming that most evidence in any court can be read both ways, that the corruption of notions and concepts has been reevaluated as appropriation or excorporation, but whenever there’s a line to be drawn, it is most certainly in this particular moment when Gramsci’s painstaking labour is turned against him and all he ever stood for. And, in as much as this is a moral stand, I plead firmly guilty. Because theoretically there is very little ground upon which to conclude that hegemony is not a politically neutral concept. There is but one moment in the Quaderni where Gramsci suggests that hegemony can only be understood in relationship with democracy:

Of the many meanings of democracy, the most realistic and concrete one in my view can be worked out in relation to the concept of ‘hegemony’. In the hegemonic system, there exists democracy between the ‘leading’ group and the groups that are ‘led’, in so far as the development of the economy and thus the legislation which expresses such development favour the (molecular)passage from the ‘led’ groups to the ‘leading’ groups. In the Roman Empire there was an imperial territorial democracy in the concession of citizenship to the conquered peoples, etc. There could be no democracy under feudalism, because of the constitution of the closed groups estates, corporations, etc (56).

But of course this will not stop anti-egalitarian, totalizing users of his ideas as they work within parliamentary democracy towards a dictatorship in which any of these considerations become ineffective and academic. So we are experiencing Ceasarism with “Gramsci” as the discursive battlefield, a catastrophic moment where a sound, productive concept–“hegemony”–is being abandoned by progressive positions and revitalised by reactionary forces. And again it is Gramsci himself who gives us the basic clue from which we have to try to start our understanding of his [END PAGE 16] contemporary position. For his remarks on Machiavelli can now be read as referring to his current position:

The habit has been formed of considering Machiaveli too much as the man of politics in general, as the ‘scientist of politics’, relevant in every period [11].

This is exactly what has happened with Gramsci’s notion of hegemony in progressive positions, they have overstretched its productive capacity to the extent that its inability to reconcile it with specific historical (contemporary) positions such as a theory of pleasure, a recognition of ethnic or feminist struggles has become to be viewed as a drawback of the original concept, an intrinsic inability that produces ‘insurmountable’ difficulties. But Gramsci of course would have been among the first to recognize that these are genuine critical contemporary problems that have to be taken into account in any reading of our concrete historical scenario; he, unfortunately, was concerned ‘only’ with his specific situation and his specific reading of the mechanisms of the making of Italian fascism. The position that suggests that the problems of reconciling hegemony theory with a theory of pleasure are insurmountable, has not understood Gramsci at all, does not acknowledge the plain fact that contemporary hegemony theory if it wants to be effective would include pleasure and a theory of pleasure as an important contemporary factor and yet another disguise of economic imponderables dressed up as cultural critique. And in the meantime, while we were talking, Gramsci has suddenly become an obscure man who died of pneumonia in a prison somehow, somewhere, and hegemony is something that has to do with the way the Nouvelle Droite sees things, right? Wrong:

Now they were walking down a narrow street, with old men on wicker chairs, and grandmothers playing with balloons to amuse their grandchildren. At the end of the street was suspended another gigantic portrait: a great domed head, like a beehive of thought, wearing glasses. That’s Gramsci. He put his arm round her shoulders so that she could lean her head against his damp flannel shirt. Antonio Gramsci, she said. He taught us all. You wouldn’t mistake for a horse dealer! he said [12].

NOTES

1. Selections from the Prison Notebooks of Antonio Gramsci, Quintin Hoare, Geoffrey Nowell Smith (ed), Lawrence and Wishart, London, 1971; p. 219. Hereafter cited as SPN.

2. Tony Bennett, “Marxism and Popular Fiction” In: Popular Fictions, Essays in Literature and History Peter Humm, Paul Stigant & Peter Widdowson (ed.) Methuen, London and New York, 1986; p. 263

3. Notes, p. 133

4. Mercer, “Complicit Pleasures”, In T. Bennett, Mercer, Popular Culture and Social Relations, Milton Keynes, Open University Press, 1986, p. 66.

5. Ibid., p. 66

6. Ibid., p. 67 [END PAGE 17]

7. Grove Borstels, Stel dat het Vlaams Blok morgen zijn programma realiseert, hoe zou Vlaanderen er dan uitzien?, van Halewijck, 1995.

8. SPN, p. 254. A very similar passage in his notebooks reads: “A social group can, and indeed must already ‘lead’ [i.e. be hegemonic] before winning governemental power (this indeed is one of the principal conditions for the winning of such power)”. (SPN, p. 47).

9. Filip Dewinter in Zwartboek `Progressieve leraars’, cited from MarcSpruyt: Grove Borstels, p. 164.

10. Nationalistische Grondslagen, Were Di, 1985, p. 3.

11. SPN, p. 140.

12. John Berger in the story “Play Me Something” in his book Once in Europa Granta Books, London, 1991; p. 189.

For a look at the American rightwing use of Gramsci, see Charlie Bertsch’s “Gramsci Rush: Limbaugh on the Culture War” (reprinted in the IGS Newsletter, no. 6)

Originally posted at International Gramsci Society

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Canon Wars

Originally posted at Alternative Right

I’m happy that Jim Kalb has gotten the conversation started about the “conservative canon” in preparation for next year’s HL Mencken Club meeting.

I’ve never felt at home in the American “conservative movement.” Sure, I agree with conservatives that income taxes are too high and Big Government is bad etc. etc. etc.But that’s the easy stuff. I’ve always sensed that, deep down, movement conservatives and I are informed and motivated by drastically different worldviews. No more have I felt this way than when I encounter various movement certified “reading lists.”

The lists of recommendations usually strike me as decent, if deficient and myopically skewed towards writers whose views are consistent with contemporary Christianity and Republican egalitarianism.  (The best of these “to read” list is Chilton Williamson’s Conservative Bookshelf).

The movement’s various Indices Librorum Prohibitorum, on the other hand, have seemed to me deeply philistine.

Paul Gottfried told me that he was actually asked to suggests titles for a “Ten Most Harmful Books” lists put out by Human Events. His editors were expecting him to suggest Das Kapital and Mein Kampf, but Gottfried proffered The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom instead, for the charge of perverting American conservatism. (It didn’t make the cut.)

Anyway, these lists of “Stuff Conservatives Don’t Like” reveal quite a bit about them. Let’s look, for instance, at Benjamin Wiker, author of 10 Books That Screwed Up the World (2008), and a man who’s made a career out of wagging his finger at bad, bad thinkers, most of them European, whose works are incommensurable with the “conservatism” he prefers. (Conservatism = democracy + free markets + God (or rather contemporary Christianity) + civil rights  + the Constitution – Darwin – abortion – race. Got it?)

Here’s Wiker’s list of forbidden titles:

  1. Machiavelli, The Prince
  2. Descartes, Discourse on Method
  3. Hobbes, Leviathan
  4. Rousseau, Discourse on the Origin and Foundation of Inequality Among Men
  5. Marx, The Communist Manifesto
  6. Mill, Utilitarianism
  7. Darwin, The Descent of Man
  8. Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil
  9. Lenin, The State and Revolution
  10. Sanger, The Pivot of Civilization
  11. Hitler, Mein Kampf
  12. Freud, The Future of an Illusion
  13. Meade, Coming of Age in Samoa
  14. Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the Human Male
  15. Friedan, The Feminine Mystique

Thomas Woods Jr. blurbs, “Benjamin Wiker has read the worst books in Western Civilization so that you don’t have to.”

Okay…  I, for one, would expect any educated person to have read and studied titles 1-9 and 12, and to have at least a working knowledge of the ideas in 10-11 and 13-15.

Putting that aside—Conservatives love to repeat that “Idea Have Consequences,” but is it true that these books “screwed up the world”?

A lot of books that make lists like these are propaganda tracks—Mein Kampf,Quotations from Chairman Mao, What Is To Be Done?—whose influence died with the dictators who published them. To say that Mao’s “little red book” caused the Cultural Revolution is to seriously mis-wire the lines of historical interpretation. Whether the “Kinsey Report” and The Feminine Mystiquecaused the sexual revolution and feminism—or were themselves symptoms of a deeper problem—is a serious question—and one that “banned books” lists don’t help much in answering. (One should also make distinctions between books that are insidious and far-reaching, and those that are merely bad and wrong.)

Anyway, using Wiker’s list as a starting point, I’ve made a go at a reading list. I’ve limited myself to philosophy, political philosophy, and sociology, and I’ve also focused on the last 200 years of Western history (though I’ve made some obvious exceptions.) I’ve also divided these titles into sections to give an idea of the perspective from which one should read them. I don’t consider good books to be an unending sequence of Holy Writ. One must not only “know the enemy” but be educated by him as well.

I. Books that probably set the stage for egalitarianism, but which you should read anyway

  • Rousseau
  • Mill
  • Hegel (Needless to say, there is a right-wing Hegelian tradition—and it’s likely the textually correct one. I’ve heard one quip that the final battle between Left and Right Hegelians took place at Stalingrad!  Whatever the case, the Young Hegelian army has been far more influential.)

II. Illiberal Political Philosophy (Americans are unsympathetic to all these people, which is quite telling; this bug of an idea that sovereignty must be legalistic and democratic is deeply embedded in the American mind.)

  • Machiavelli
  • Hobbes (Jim and I disagree on Hobbes)
  • Carl Schmitt

III.Gods of the Left. (These are the people one must read in order to understand the left-wing mind—and that of the current regime.)

  • Marx
  • Freud
  • Critical Theory—Benjamin, Adorno, Horkheimer, Marcuse
  • (Post-)Structuralists & Co.—Foucualt, Levi-Strauss, Levinas, Bordieu

IV. The Left We Can Learn From (By this I mean leftists whose strategic and tactical insights are useful, due, in part, to the fact that they existed in similar social positions as rightists find themselves in today.)

  • Lenin
  • Gramsci

V. The Reactionary Tradition

  • Edmund Burke
  • Juan Donoso Cortés
  • Joseph de Maistre

VI. Confronting Modernity (These thinkers should be juxtaposed to the “reactionaries” in that they sought to think through the full implications of modernity and attempted to overcome it—push through it to the other side—as opposed to return to the past.)

  • Schopenhauer
  • Nietzsche
  • Heidegger
  • Spengler
  • Julius Evola

V. Biological Realism (American conservatives really, really hate this.)

  • Darwin, Francis Galton
  • Richard Lynn, John Philippe Rushton, and Arthur Jensen
  • Madison Grant and Lothrop Stoddard

VI.  Economic Realism (Traditionalists like to disparage economics. Applied logically, however, it is the only social science that is valid a priori. (E.g., increasing the quantity of a good will lower its marginal value in all possible worlds.) Hans-Hermann Hoppe has mentioned that no one can talk seriously about society without a working knowledge of economics (one that could be obtained by reading Henry Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson, for instance.) I agree.)

  • Mises
  • Rothbard
  • Hans-Herman Hoppe

VII. Contemporary Currents

  • Gottfried (After Liberalism)
  • James Kalb (The Tyranny of Liberalism)
  • Thomas Fleming (The Morality of Everyday Life)
  • “12 Southerners” (I’ll Take My Stand)
  • Kevin MacDonald (The Culture of Critique)
  • Murray Rothbard (Egalitarianism as a Revolt Against Nature and Other Essays)
  • French New Right and Allies—Alain de Benoist and Giullaume Faye
  • Traditionalism

I consider this list a start—something to provoke discussion. And again, it is highly limited in that it omits the ancient and medieval worlds (and most of the early modern one).

We should also work on lists for essential historiography, including intellectual history, as well as poetry and novels. We also might want to create a list for “Non-Canonical Classics,” that is, great books that are timely, journalistic, and not written as philosophy—but nevertheless must be read. Peter Brimelow’s Alien Nation, Patrick Buchanan’s Death of the West are excellent examples in this regard, but not the only ones.

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EU Federalization: The Pan-European Manifesto (Paneuropa)

EU Funded Pro EU Troll

paneuropean_SunCross_jpeg

Below is a translation of a document known as the Pan-European Manifesto, also known as Paneuropa.

This is the founding document of the Pan-European movement.

The original in German may be found here:

http://vv.varzil.de/II-01.PDF

NB: The translation is as close to literal as possible whilst remaining intelligible. Some passages may not read fluidly in English. The intention of the author is preserved. Minor changes have been made in order to ensure some passages are intelligible. The layout – paragraphing – is as per the German source. Typographic emphasis has not been preserved.


The Pan European Manifesto 

Count Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi, 1923

Europeans! Europeans!

Europe’s fateful hour strikes!

In European factories weapons are daily forged to rend European men – in European laboratories daily are brewed poisons to exterminate European women and children.

Meanwhile, Europe is playing with inconceivable levity its fate; in incomprehensible blindness it does not see what is imminent; in incomprehensible inactivity it can is…

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The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism

I just wanted to share with you another short but interesting piece that I think is important towards building an American Identitarian movement. This piece is the Futurist Manifesto by  Filippo Tommaso Marinetti written in 1909. One tendency we have on the right is to be backwards looking i.e. reactionary or conservative. Going forward, it will be important to have a vision for our people and our movement and I feel that Marinetti touches on some interesting themes in his manifesto. Enjoy. 

The Founding and Manifesto of Futurism

We had stayed up all night, my friends and I, under hanging mosque lamps with domes of filigreed brass, domes starred like our spirits, shining like them with the prisoned radiance of electric hearts. For hours we had trampled our atavistic ennui into rich oriental rugs, arguing up to the last confines of logic and blackening many reams of paper with our frenzied scribbling.

An immense pride was buoying us up, because we felt ourselves alone at that hour, alone, awake, and on our feet, like proud beacons or forward sentries against an army of hostile stars glaring down at us from their celestial encampments. Alone with stokers feeding the hellish fires of great ships, alone with the black spectres who grope in the red-hot bellies of locomotives launched on their crazy courses, alone with drunkards reeling like wounded birds along the city walls.

Suddenly we jumped, hearing the mighty noise of the huge double-decker trams that rumbled by outside, ablaze with colored lights, like villages on holiday suddenly struck and uprooted by the flooding Po and dragged over falls and through gourges to the sea.

Then the silence deepened. But, as we listened to the old canal muttering its feeble prayers and the creaking bones of sickly palaces above their damp green beards, under the windows we suddenly heard the famished roar of automobiles.

‘Let’s go!’ I said. ‘Friends, away! Let’s go! Mythology and the Mystic Ideal are defeated at last. We’re about to see the Centaur’s birth and, soon after, the first flight of Angels!… We must shake at the gates of life, test the bolts and hinges. Let’s go! Look there, on the earth, the very first dawn! There’s nothing to match the splendor of the sun’s red sword, slashing for the first time through our millennial gloom!’

We went up to the three snorting beasts, to lay amorous hands on their torrid breasts. I stretched out on my car like a corpse on its bier, but revived at once under the steering wheel, a guillotine blade that threatened my stomach.

The raging broom of madness swept us out of ourselves and drove us through streets as rough and deep as the beds of torrents. Here and there, sick lamplight through window glass taught us to distrust the deceitful mathematics of our perishing eyes.

I cried, ‘The scent, the scent alone is enough for our beasts.’

And like young lions we ran after Death, its dark pelt blotched with pale crosses as it escaped down the vast violet living and throbbing sky.

But we had no ideal Mistress raising her divine form to the clouds, nor any cruel Queen to whom to offer our bodies, twisted like Byzantine rings! There was nothing to make us wish for death, unless the wish to be free at last from the weight of our courage!

And on we raced, hurling watchdogs against doorsteps, curling them under our burning tires like collars under a flatiron. Death, domesticated, met me at every turn, gracefully holding out a paw, or once in a while hunkering down, making velvety caressing eyes at me from every puddle.

‘Let’s break out of the horrible shell of wisdom and throw ourselves like pride-ripened fruit into the wide, contorted mouth of the wind! Let’s give ourselves utterly to the Unknown, not in desperation but only to replenish the deep wells of the Absurd!’

The words were scarcely out of my mouth when I spun my car around with the frenzy of a dog trying to bite its tail, and there, suddenly, were two cyclists coming towards me, shaking their fists, wobbling like two equally convincing but nevertheless contradictory arguments. Their stupid dilemma was blocking my way—Damn! Ouch!… I stopped short and to my disgust rolled over into a ditch with my wheels in the air…

O maternal ditch, almost full of muddy water! Fair factory drain! I gulped down your nourishing sludge; and I remembered the blessed black breast of my Sudanese nurse… When I came up—torn, filthy, and stinking—from under the capsized car, I felt the white-hot iron of joy deliciously pass through my heart!

A crowd of fishermen with handlines and gouty naturalists were already swarming around the prodigy. With patient, loving care those people rigged a tall derrick and iron grapnels to fish out my car, like a big beached shark. Up it came from the ditch, slowly, leaving in the bottom, like scales, its heavy framework of good sense and its soft upholstery of comfort.

They thought it was dead, my beautiful shark, but a caress from me was enough to revive it; and there it was, alive again, running on its powerful fins!

And so, faces smeared with good factory muck—plastered with metallic waste, with senseless sweat, with celestial soot—we, bruised, our arms in slings, but unafraid, declared our high intentions to all the living of the earth:

MANIFESTO OF FUTURISM

  1. We intend to sing the love of danger, the habit of energy and fearlessness.
  2. Courage, audacity, and revolt will be essential elements of our poetry.
  3. Up to now literature has exalted a pensive immobility, ecstasy, and sleep. We intend to exalt aggressive action, a feverish insomnia, the racer’s stride, the mortal leap, the punch and the slap.
  4. We affirm that the world’s magnificence has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car whose hood is adorned with great pipes, like serpents of explosive breath—a roaring car that seems to ride on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.
  5. We want to hymn the man at the wheel, who hurls the lance of his spirit across the Earth, along the circle of its orbit.
  6. The poet must spend himself with ardor, splendor, and generosity, to swell the enthusiastic fervor of the primordial elements.
  7. Except in struggle, there is no more beauty. No work without an aggressive character can be a masterpiece. Poetry must be conceived as a violent attack on unknown forces, to reduce and prostrate them before man.
  8. We stand on the last promontory of the centuries!… Why should we look back, when what we want is to break down the mysterious doors of the Impossible? Time and Space died yesterday. We already live in the absolute, because we have created eternal, omnipresent speed.
  9. We will glorify war—the world’s only hygiene—militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn for woman.
  10. We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice.
  11. We will sing of great crowds excited by work, by pleasure, and by riot; we will sing of the multicolored, polyphonic tides of revolution in the modern capitals; we will sing of the vibrant nightly fervor of arsenals and shipyards blazing with violent electric moons; greedy railway stations that devour smoke-plumed serpents; factories hung on clouds by the crooked lines of their smoke; bridges that stride the rivers like giant gymnasts, flashing in the sun with a glitter of knives; adventurous steamers that sniff the horizon; deep-chested locomotives whose wheels paw the tracks like the hooves of enormous steel horses bridled by tubing; and the sleek flight of planes whose propellers chatter in the wind like banners and seem to cheer like an enthusiastic crowd.

It is from Italy that we launch through the world this violently upsetting incendiary manifesto of ours. With it, today, we establish Futurism, because we want to free this land from its smelly gangrene of professors, archaeologists, ciceroni and antiquarians. For too long has Italy been a dealer in second-hand clothes. We mean to free her from the numberless museums that cover her like so many graveyards.

Museums: cemeteries!… Identical, surely, in the sinister promiscuity of so many bodies unknown to one another. Museums: public dormitories where one lies forever beside hated or unknown beings. Museums: absurd abattoirs of painters and sculptors ferociously slaughtering each other with color-blows and line-blows, the length of the fought-over walls!

That one should make an annual pilgrimage, just as one goes to the graveyard on All Souls’ Day—that I grant. That once a year one should leave a floral tribute beneath the Gioconda, I grant you that… But I don’t admit that our sorrows, our fragile courage, our morbid restlessness should be given a daily conducted tour through the museums. Why poison ourselves? Why rot?

And what is there to see in an old picture except the laborious contortions of an artist throwing himself against the barriers that thwart his desire to express his dream completely?… Admiring an old picture is the same as pouring our sensibility into a funerary urn instead of hurtling it far off, in violent spasms of action and creation.

Do you, then, wish to waste all your best powers in this eternal and futile worship of the past, from which you emerge fatally exhausted, shrunken, beaten down?

In truth I tell you that daily visits to museums, libraries, and academies (cemeteries of empty exertion, Calvaries of crucified dreams, registries of aborted beginnings!) are, for artists, as damaging as the prolonged supervision by parents of certain young people drunk with their talent and their ambitious wills. When the future is barred to them, the admirable past may be a solace for the ills of the moribund, the sickly, the prisoner… But we want no part of it, the past, we the young and strong Futurists!

So let them come, the gay incendiaries with charred fingers! Here they are! Here they are!… Come on! Set fire to the library shelves! Turn aside the canals to flood the museums!… Oh, the joy of seeing the glorious old canvases bobbing adrift on those waters, discolored and shredded!… Take up your pickaxes, your axes and hammers and wreck, wreck the venerable cities, pitilessly!

The oldest of us is thirty: so we have at least a decade for finishing our work. When we are forty, other younger and stronger men will probably throw us in the wastebasket like useless manuscripts—we want it to happen!

They will come against us, our successors, will come from far away, from every quarter, dancing to the winged cadence of their first songs, flexing the hooked claws of predators, sniffing doglike at the academy doors the strong odor of our decaying minds, which will have already been promised to the literary catacombs.

But we won’t be there… At last they’ll find us—one winter’s night—in open country, beneath a sad roof drummed by a monotonous rain. They’ll see us crouched beside our trembling aeroplanes in the act of warming our hands at the poor little blaze that our books of today will give out when they take fire from the flight of our images.

They’ll storm around us, panting with scorn and anguish, and all of them, exasperated by our proud daring, will hurtle to kill us, driven by a hatred the more implacable the more their hearts will be drunk with love and admiration for us.

Injustice, strong and sane, will break out radiantly in their eyes.

Art, in fact, can be nothing but violence, cruelty, and injustice.

The oldest of us is thirty: even so we have already scattered treasures, a thousand treasures of force, love, courage, astuteness, and raw will-power; have thrown them impatiently away, with fury, carelessly, unhesitatingly, breathless, and unresting… Look at us! We are still untired! Our hearts know no weariness because they are fed with fire, hatred, and speed!… Does that amaze you?

It should, because you can never remember having lived! Erect on the summit of the world, once again we hurl our defiance at the stars!

You have objections?—Enough! Enough! We know them… We’ve understood!… Our fine deceitful intelligence tells us that we are the revival and extension of our ancestors—Perhaps!… If only it were so!—But who cares? We don’t want to understand!… Woe to anyone who says those infamous words to us again!

Lift up your heads!

Erect on the summit of the world, once again we hurl defiance to the stars!

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Letters from an American Farmer, Letter III – What is an American?

In hopes of fostering an American Identitarian movement in the United States, I thought I would share with you this essay. The author is J. Hector St. John de Crèvecœur who wrote Letters from an American Farmer back in 1782. In Letter III, titled “What is an American?” the author touches on the identity of the American. My hopes is that you all will read this and take something away from it towards helping White Americans rediscover their identity and ‘become who they are’ as Richard Spencer says. Enjoy!

What is an American?

I wish I could be acquainted with the feelings and thoughts which must agitate the heart and present themselves to the mind of an enlightened Englishman, when he first lands on this continent. He must greatly rejoice that he lived at a time to see this fair country discovered and settled; he must necessarily feel a share of national pride, when he views the chain of settlements which embellishes these extended shores. When he says to himself, this is the work of my countrymen, who, when convulsed by factions, afflicted by a variety of miseries and wants, restless and impatient, took refuge here. They brought along with them their national genius, to which they principally owe what liberty they enjoy, and what substance they possess. Here he sees the industry of his native country displayed in a new manner, and traces in their works the embryos of all the arts, sciences, and ingenuity which nourish in Europe. Here he beholds fair cities, substantial villages, extensive fields, an immense country filled with decent houses, good roads, orchards, meadows, and bridges, where an hundred years ago all was wild, woody, and uncultivated! What a train of pleasing ideas this fair spectacle must suggest; it is a prospect which must inspire a good citizen with the most heartfelt pleasure. The difficulty consists in the manner of viewing so extensive a scene. He is arrived on a new continent; a modern society offers itself to his contemplation, different from what he had hitherto seen. It is not composed, as in Europe, of great lords who possess everything, and of a herd of people who have nothing. Here are no aristocratical families, no courts, no kings, no bishops, no ecclesiastical dominion, no invisible power giving to a few a very visible one; no great manufacturers employing thousands, no great refinements of luxury. The rich and the poor are not so far removed from each other as they are in Europe. Some few towns excepted, we are all tillers of the earth, from Nova Scotia to West Florida. We are a people of cultivators, scattered over an immense territory, communicating with each other by means of good roads and navigable rivers, united by the silken bands of mild government, all respecting the laws, without dreading their power, because they are equitable. We are all animated with the spirit of an industry which is unfettered and unrestrained, because each person works for himself. If he travels through our rural districts he views not the hostile castle, and the haughty mansion, contrasted with the clay- built hut and miserable cabin, where cattle and men help to keep each other warm, and dwell in meanness, smoke, and indigence. A pleasing uniformity of decent competence appears throughout our habitations. The meanest of our log-houses is a dry and comfortable habitation. Lawyer or merchant are the fairest titles our towns afford; that of a farmer is the only appellation of the rural inhabitants of our country. It must take some time ere he can reconcile himself to our dictionary, which is but short in words of dignity, and names of honour. There, on a Sunday, he sees a congregation of respectable farmers and their wives, all clad in neat homespun, well mounted, or riding in their own humble waggons. There is not among them an esquire, saving the unlettered magistrate. There he sees a parson as simple as his flock, a farmer who does not riot on the labour of others. We have no princes, for whom we toil, starve, and bleed: we are the most perfect society now existing in the world. Here man is free as he ought to be; nor is this pleasing equality so transitory as many others are. Many ages will not see the shores of our great lakes replenished with inland nations, nor the unknown bounds of North America entirely peopled. Who can tell how far it extends? Who can tell the millions of men whom it will feed and contain? for no European foot has as yet travelled half the extent of this mighty continent!

The next wish of this traveller will be to know whence came all these people? they are a mixture of English, Scotch, Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes. From this promiscuous breed, that race now called Americans have arisen. The eastern provinces must indeed be excepted, as being the unmixed descendants of Englishmen. I have heard many wish that they had been more intermixed also: for my part, I am no wisher, and think it much better as it has happened. They exhibit a most conspicuous figure in this great and variegated picture; they too enter for a great share in the pleasing perspective displayed in these thirteen provinces. I know it is fashionable to reflect on them, but I respect them for what they have done; for the accuracy and wisdom with which they have settled their territory; for the decency of their manners; for their early love of letters; their ancient college, the first in this hemisphere; for their industry; which to me who am but a farmer, is the criterion of everything. There never was a people, situated as they are, who with so ungrateful a soil have done more in so short a time. Do you think that the monarchical ingredients which are more prevalent in other governments, have purged them from all foul stains? Their histories assert the contrary.

In this great American asylum, the poor of Europe have by some means met together, and in consequence of various causes; to what purpose should they ask one another what countrymen they are? Alas, two thirds of them had no country. Can a wretch who wanders about, who works and starves, whose life is a continual scene of sore affliction or pinching penury; can that man call England or any other kingdom his country? A country that had no bread for him, whose fields procured him no harvest, who met with nothing but the frowns of the rich, the severity of the laws, with jails and punishments; who owned not a single foot of the extensive surface of this planet? No! urged by a variety of motives, here they came. Every thing has tended to regenerate them; new laws, a new mode of living, a new social system; here they are become men: in Europe they were as so many useless plants, wanting vegetative mould, and refreshing showers; they withered, and were mowed down by want, hunger, and war; but now by the power of transplantation, like all other plants they have taken root and flourished! Formerly they were not numbered in any civil lists of their country, except in those of the poor; here they rank as citizens. By what invisible power has this surprising metamorphosis been performed? By that of the laws and that of their industry. The laws, the indulgent laws, protect them as they arrive, stamping on them the symbol of adoption; they receive ample rewards for their labours; these accumulated rewards procure them lands; those lands confer on them the title of freemen, and to that title every benefit is affixed which men can possibly require. This is the great operation daily performed by our laws. From whence proceed these laws? From our government. Whence the government? It is derived from the original genius and strong desire of the people ratified and confirmed by the crown. This is the great chain which links us all, this is the picture which every province exhibits, Nova Scotia excepted.

There the crown has done all; either there were no people who had genius, or it was not much attended to: the consequence is, that the province is very thinly inhabited indeed; the power of the crown in conjunction with the musketos has prevented men from settling there. Yet some parts of it flourished once, and it contained a mild harmless set of people. But for the fault of a few leaders, the whole were banished. The greatest political error the crown ever committed in America, was to cut off men from a country which wanted nothing but men!

What attachment can a poor European emigrant have for a country where he had nothing? The knowledge of the language, the love of a few kindred as poor as himself, were the only cords that tied him: his country is now that which gives him land, bread, protection, and consequence: Ubi panis ibi patria, is the motto of all emigrants. What then is the American, this new man? He is either an European, or the descendant of an European, hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country. I could point out to you a family whose grandfather was an Englishman, whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose present four sons have now four wives of different nations. He is an American, who, leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. He becomes an American by being received in the broad lap of our great Alma Mater. Here individuals of all nations are melted into a new race of men, whose labours and posterity will one day cause great changes in the world. Americans are the western pilgrims, who are carrying along with them that great mass of arts, sciences, vigour, and industry which began long since in the east; they will finish the great circle. The Americans were once scattered all over Europe; here they are incorporated into one of the finest systems of population which has ever appeared, and which will hereafter become distinct by the power of the different climates they inhabit. The American ought therefore to love this country much better than that wherein either he or his forefathers were born. Here the rewards of his industry follow with equal steps the progress of his labour; his labour is founded on the basis of nature, SELF-INTEREST: can it want a stronger allurement? Wives and children, who before in vain demanded of him a morsel of bread, now, fat and frolicsome, gladly help their father to clear those fields whence exuberant crops are to arise to feed and to clothe them all; without any part being claimed, either by a despotic prince, a rich abbot, or a mighty lord. Here religion demands but little of him; a small voluntary salary to the minister, and gratitude to God; can he refuse these? The American is a new man, who acts upon new principles; he must therefore entertain new ideas, and form new opinions. From involuntary idleness, servile dependence, penury, and useless labour, he has passed to toils of a very different nature, rewarded by ample subsistence.—This is an American.

British America is divided into many provinces, forming a large association, scattered along a coast 1500 miles extent and about 200 wide. This society I would fain examine, at least such as it appears in the middle provinces; if it does not afford that variety of tinges and gradations which may be observed in Europe, we have colours peculiar to ourselves. For instance, it is natural to conceive that those who live near the sea, must be very different from those who live in the woods; the intermediate space will afford a separate and distinct class.

Men are like plants; the goodness and flavour of the fruit proceeds from the peculiar soil and exposition in which they grow. We are nothing but what we derive from the air we breathe, the climate we inhabit, the government we obey, the system of religion we profess, and the nature of our employment. Here you will find but few crimes; these have acquired as yet no root among us. I wish I was able to trace all my ideas; if my ignorance prevents me from describing them properly, I hope I shall be able to delineate a few of the outlines, which are all I propose.

Those who live near the sea, feed more on fish than on flesh, and often encounter that boisterous element. This renders them more bold and enterprising; this leads them to neglect the confined occupations of the land. They see and converse with a variety of people, their intercourse with mankind becomes extensive. The sea inspires them with a love of traffic, a desire of transporting produce from one place to another; and leads them to a variety of resources which supply the place of labour. Those who inhabit the middle settlements, by far the most numerous, must be very different; the simple cultivation of the earth purifies them, but the indulgences of the government, the soft remonstrances of religion, the rank of independent freeholders, must necessarily inspire them with sentiments, very little known in Europe among people of the same class. What do I say? Europe has no such class of men; the early knowledge they acquire, the early bargains they make, give them a great degree of sagacity. As freemen they will be litigious; pride and obstinacy are often the cause of law suits; the nature of our laws and governments may be another. As citizens it is easy to imagine, that they will carefully read the newspapers, enter into every political disquisition, freely blame or censure governors and others. As farmers they will be careful and anxious to get as much as they can, because what they get is their own. As northern men they will love the cheerful cup. As Christians, religion curbs them not in their opinions; the general indulgence leaves every one to think for themselves in spiritual matters; the laws inspect our actions, our thoughts are left to God. Industry, good living, selfishness, litigiousness, country politics, the pride of freemen, religious indifference, are their characteristics. If you recede still farther from the sea, you will come into more modern settlements; they exhibit the same strong lineaments, in a ruder appearance. Religion seems to have still less influence, and their manners are less improved.

Now we arrive near the great woods, near the last inhabited districts; there men seem to be placed still farther beyond the reach of government, which in some measure leaves them to themselves. How can it pervade every corner; as they were driven there by misfortunes, necessity of beginnings, desire of acquiring large tracts of land, idleness, frequent want of economy, ancient debts; the re-union of such people does not afford a very pleasing spectacle. When discord, want of unity and friendship; when either drunkenness or idleness prevail in such remote districts; contention, inactivity, and wretchedness must ensue. There are not the same remedies to these evils as in a long established community. The few magistrates they have, are in general little better than the rest; they are often in a perfect state of war; that of man against man, sometimes decided by blows, sometimes by means of the law; that of man against every wild inhabitant of these venerable woods, of which they are come to dispossess them. There men appear to be no better than carnivorous animals of a superior rank, living on the flesh of wild animals when they can catch them, and when they are not able, they subsist on grain. He who would wish to see America in its proper light, and have a true idea of its feeble beginnings and barbarous rudiments, must visit our extended line of frontiers where the last settlers dwell, and where he may see the first labours of settlement, the mode of clearing the earth, in all their different appearances; where men are wholly left dependent on their native tempers, and on the spur of uncertain industry, which often fails when not sanctified by the efficacy of a few moral rules. There, remote from the power of example and check of shame, many families exhibit the most hideous parts of our society. They are a kind of forlorn hope, preceding by ten or twelve years the most respectable army of veterans which come after them. In that space, prosperity will polish some, vice and the law will drive off the rest, who uniting again with others like themselves will recede still farther; making room for more industrious people, who will finish their improvements, convert the loghouse into a convenient habitation, and rejoicing that the first heavy labours are finished, will change in a few years that hitherto barbarous country into a fine fertile, well regulated district. Such is our progress, such is the march of the Europeans toward the interior parts of this continent. In all societies there are off-casts; this impure part serves as our precursors or pioneers; my father himself was one of that class, but he came upon honest principles, and was therefore one of the few who held fast; by good conduct and temperance, he transmitted to me his fair inheritance, when not above one in fourteen of his contemporaries had the same good fortune.

Forty years ago this smiling country was thus inhabited; it is now purged, a general decency of manners prevails throughout, and such has been the fate of our best countries.

Exclusive of those general characteristics, each province has its own, founded on the government, climate, mode of husbandry, customs, and peculiarity of circumstances. Europeans submit insensibly to these great powers, and become, in the course of a few generations, not only Americans in general, but either Pennsylvanians, Virginians, or provincials under some other name. Whoever traverses the continent must easily observe those strong differences, which will grow more evident in time. The inhabitants of Canada, Massachusetts, the middle provinces, the southern ones will be as different as their climates; their only points of unity will be those of religion and language.

As I have endeavoured to show you how Europeans become Americans; it may not be disagreeable to show you likewise how the various Christian sects introduced, wear out, and how religious indifference becomes prevalent. When any considerable number of a particular sect happen to dwell contiguous to each other, they immediately erect a temple, and there worship the Divinity agreeably to their own peculiar ideas. Nobody disturbs them. If any new sect springs up in Europe it may happen that many of its professors will come and settle in American. As they bring their zeal with them, they are at liberty to make proselytes if they can, and to build a meeting and to follow the dictates of their consciences; for neither the government nor any other power interferes. If they are peaceable subjects, and are industrious, what is it to their neighbours how and in what manner they think fit to address their prayers to the Supreme Being? But if the sectaries are not settled close together, if they are mixed with other denominations, their zeal will cool for want of fuel, and will be extinguished in a little time. Then the Americans become as to religion, what they are as to country, allied to all. In them the name of Englishman, Frenchman, and European is lost, and in like manner, the strict modes of Christianity as practised in Europe are lost also. This effect will extend itself still farther hereafter, and though this may appear to you as a strange idea, yet it is a very true one. I shall be able perhaps hereafter to explain myself better; in the meanwhile, let the following example serve as my first justification.

Let us suppose you and I to be travelling; we observe that in this house, to the right, lives a Catholic, who prays to God as he has been taught, and believes in transubstantiation; he works and raises wheat, he has a large family of children, all hale and robust; his belief, his prayers offend nobody. About one mile farther on the same road, his next neighbour may be a good honest plodding German Lutheran, who addresses himself to the same God, the God of all, agreeably to the modes he has been educated in, and believes in consubstantiation; by so doing he scandalises nobody; he also works in his fields, embellishes the earth, clears swamps, etc. What has the world to do with his Lutheran principles? He persecutes nobody, and nobody persecutes him, he visits his neighbours, and his neighbours visit him. Next to him lives a seceder, the most enthusiastic of all sectaries; his zeal is hot and fiery, but separated as he is from others of the same complexion, he has no congregation of his own to resort to, where he might cabal and mingle religious pride with worldly obstinacy. He likewise raises good crops, his house is handsomely painted, his orchard is one of the fairest in the neighbourhood. How does it concern the welfare of the country, or of the province at large, what this man’s religious sentiments are, or really whether he has any at all? He is a good farmer, he is a sober, peaceable, good citizen: William Penn himself would not wish for more. This is the visible character, the invisible one is only guessed at, and is nobody’s business. Next again lives a Low Dutchman, who implicitly believes the rules laid down by the synod of Dort. He conceives no other idea of a clergyman than that of an hired man; if he does his work well he will pay him the stipulated sum; if not he will dismiss him, and do without his sermons, and let his church be shut up for years. But notwithstanding this coarse idea, you will find his house and farm to be the neatest in all the country; and you will judge by his waggon and fat horses, that he thinks more of the affairs of this world than of those of the next. He is sober and laborious, therefore he is all he ought to be as to the affairs of this life; as for those of the next, he must trust to the great Creator. Each of these people instruct their children as well as they can, but these instructions are feeble compared to those which are given to the youth of the poorest class in Europe. Their children will therefore grow up less zealous and more indifferent in matters of religion than their parents. The foolish vanity, or rather the fury of making Proselytes, is unknown here; they have no time, the seasons call for all their attention, and thus in a few years, this mixed neighbourhood will exhibit a strange religious medley, that will be neither pure Catholicism nor pure Calvinism. A very perceptible indifference even in the first generation, will become apparent; and it may happen that the daughter of the Catholic will marry the son of the seceder, and settle by themselves at a distance from their parents. What religious education will they give their children? A very imperfect one. If there happens to be in the neighbourhood any place of worship, we will suppose a Quaker’s meeting; rather than not show their fine clothes, they will go to it, and some of them may perhaps attach themselves to that society. Others will remain in a perfect state of indifference; the children of these zealous parents will not be able to tell what their religious principles are, and their grandchildren still less. The neighbourhood of a place of worship generally leads them to it, and the action of going thither, is the strongest evidence they can give of their attachment to any sect. The Quakers are the only people who retain a fondness for their own mode of worship; for be they ever so far separated from each other, they hold a sort of communion with the society, and seldom depart from its rules, at least in this country. Thus all sects are mixed as well as all nations; thus religious indifference is imperceptibly disseminated from one end of the continent to the other; which is at present one of the strongest characteristics of the Americans. Where this will reach no one can tell, perhaps it may leave a vacuum fit to receive other systems. Persecution, religious pride, the love of contradiction, are the food of what the world commonly calls religion. These motives have ceased here; zeal in Europe is confined; here it evaporates in the great distance it has to travel; there it is a grain of powder inclosed, here it burns away in the open air, and consumes without effect.

But to return to our back settlers. I must tell you, that there is something in the proximity of the woods, which is very singular. It is with men as it is with the plants and animals that grow and live in the forests; they are entirely different from those that live in the plains. I will candidly tell you all my thoughts but you are not to expect that I shall advance any reasons. By living in or near the woods, their actions are regulated by the wildness of the neighbourhood. The deer often come to eat their grain, the wolves to destroy their sheep, the bears to kill their hogs, the foxes to catch their poultry. This surrounding hostility immediately puts the gun into their hands; they watch these animals, they kill some; and thus by defending their property, they soon become professed hunters; this is the progress; once hunters, farewell to the plough. The chase renders them ferocious, gloomy, and unsociable; a hunter wants no neighbour, he rather hates them, because he dreads the competition. In a little time their success in the woods makes them neglect their tillage. They trust to the natural fecundity of the earth, and therefore do little; carelessness in fencing often exposes what little they sow to destruction; they are not at home to watch; in order therefore to make up the deficiency, they go oftener to the woods. That new mode of life brings along with it a new set of manners, which I cannot easily describe. These new manners being grafted on the old stock, produce a strange sort of lawless profligacy, the impressions of which are indelible. The manners of the Indian natives are respectable, compared with this European medley. Their wives and children live in sloth and inactivity; and having no proper pursuits, you may judge what education the latter receive. Their tender minds have nothing else to contemplate but the example of their parents; like them they grow up a mongrel breed, half civilised, half savage, except nature stamps on them some constitutional propensities. That rich, that voluptuous sentiment is gone that struck them so forcibly; the possession of their freeholds no longer conveys to their minds the same pleasure and pride. To all these reasons you must add, their lonely situation, and you cannot imagine what an effect on manners the great distances they live from each other has! Consider one of the last settlements in its first view: of what is it composed? Europeans who have not that sufficient share of knowledge they ought to have, in order to prosper; people who have suddenly passed from oppression, dread of government, and fear of laws, into the unlimited freedom of the woods. This sudden change must have a very great effect on most men, and on that class particularly. Eating of wild meat, whatever you may think, tends to alter their temper: though all the proof I can adduce, is, that I have seen it: and having no place of worship to resort to, what little society this might afford is denied them. The Sunday meetings, exclusive of religious benefits, were the only social bonds that might have inspired them with some degree of emulation in neatness. Is it then surprising to see men thus situated, immersed in great and heavy labours, degenerate a little? It is rather a wonder the effect is not more diffusive. The Moravians and the Quakers are the only instances in exception to what I have advanced. The first never settle singly, it is a colony of the society which emigrates; they carry with them their forms, worship, rules, and decency: the others never begin so hard, they are always able to buy improvements, in which there is a great advantage, for by that time the country is recovered from its first barbarity. Thus our bad people are those who are half cultivators and half hunters; and the worst of them are those who have degenerated altogether into the hunting state. As old ploughmen and new men of the woods, as Europeans and new made Indians, they contract the vices of both; they adopt the moroseness and ferocity of a native, without his mildness, or even his industry at home. If manners are not refined, at least they are rendered simple and inoffensive by tilling the earth; all our wants are supplied by it, our time is divided between labour and rest, and leaves none for the commission of great misdeeds. As hunters it is divided between the toil of the chase, the idleness of repose, or the indulgence of inebriation. Hunting is but a licentious idle life, and if it does not always pervert good dispositions; yet, when it is united with bad luck, it leads to want: want stimulates that propensity to rapacity and injustice, too natural to needy men, which is the fatal gradation. After this explanation of the effects which follow by living in the woods, shall we yet vainly flatter ourselves with the hope of converting the Indians? We should rather begin with converting our back- settlers; and now if I dare mention the name of religion, its sweet accents would be lost in the immensity of these woods. Men thus placed are not fit either to receive or remember its mild instructions; they want temples and ministers, but as soon as men cease to remain at home, and begin to lead an erratic life, let them be either tawny or white, they cease to be its disciples.

Thus have I faintly and imperfectly endeavoured to trace our society from the sea to our woods! yet you must not imagine that every person who moves back, acts upon the same principles, or falls into the same degeneracy. Many families carry with them all their decency of conduct, purity of morals, and respect of religion; but these are scarce, the power of example is sometimes irresistible. Even among these back-settlers, their depravity is greater or less, according to what nation or province they belong. Were I to adduce proofs of this, I might be accused of partiality. If there happens to be some rich intervals, some fertile bottoms, in those remote districts, the people will there prefer tilling the land to hunting, and will attach themselves to it; but even on these fertile spots you may plainly perceive the inhabitants to acquire a great degree of rusticity and selfishness.

It is in consequence of this straggling situation, and the astonishing power it has on manners, that the back-settlers of both the Carolinas, Virginia, and many other parts, have been long a set of lawless people; it has been even dangerous to travel among them. Government can do nothing in so extensive a country, better it should wink at these irregularities, than that it should use means inconsistent with its usual mildness. Time will efface those stains: in proportion as the great body of population approaches them they will reform, and become polished and subordinate. Whatever has been said of the four New England provinces, no such degeneracy of manners has ever tarnished their annals; their back-settlers have been kept within the bounds of decency, and government, by means of wise laws, and by the influence of religion. What a detestable idea such people must have given to the natives of the Europeans! They trade with them, the worst of people are permitted to do that which none but persons of the best characters should be employed in. They get drunk with them, and often defraud the Indians. Their avarice, removed from the eyes of their superiors, knows no bounds; and aided by the little superiority of knowledge, these traders deceive them, and even sometimes shed blood. Hence those shocking violations, those sudden devastations which have so often stained our frontiers, when hundreds of innocent people have been sacrificed for the crimes of a few. It was in consequence of such behaviour, that the Indians took the hatchet against the Virginians in 1774. Thus are our first steps trod, thus are our first trees felled, in general, by the most vicious of our people; and thus the path is opened for the arrival of a second and better class, the true American freeholders; the most respectable set of people in this part of the world: respectable for their industry, their happy independence, the great share of freedom they possess, the good regulation of their families, and for extending the trade and the dominion of our mother country.

Europe contains hardly any other distinctions but lords and tenants; this fair country alone is settled by freeholders, the possessors of the soil they cultivate, members of the government they obey, and the framers of their own laws, by means of their representatives. This is a thought which you have taught me to cherish; our difference from Europe, far from diminishing, rather adds to our usefulness and consequence as men and subjects. Had our forefathers remained there, they would only have crowded it, and perhaps prolonged those convulsions which had shook it so long. Every industrious European who transports himself here, may be compared to a sprout growing at the foot of a great tree; it enjoys and draws but a little portion of sap; wrench it from the parent roots, transplant it, and it will become a tree bearing fruit also. Colonists are therefore entitled to the consideration due to the most useful subjects; a hundred families barely existing in some parts of Scotland, will here in six years, cause an annual exportation of 10,000 bushels of wheat: 100 bushels being but a common quantity for an industrious family to sell, if they cultivate good land. It is here then that the idle may be employed, the useless become useful, and the poor become rich; but by riches I do not mean gold and silver, we have but little of those metals; I mean a better sort of wealth, cleared lands, cattle, good houses, good clothes, and an increase of people to enjoy them.

There is no wonder that this country has so many charms, and presents to Europeans so many temptations to remain in it. A traveller in Europe becomes a stranger as soon as he quits his own kingdom; but it is otherwise here. We know, properly speaking, no strangers; this is every person’s country; the variety of our soils, situations, climates, governments, and produce, hath something which must please everybody. No sooner does an European arrive, no matter of what condition, than his eyes are opened upon the fair prospect; he hears his language spoke, he retraces many of his own country manners, he perpetually hears the names of families and towns with which he is acquainted; he sees happiness and prosperity in all places disseminated; he meets with hospitality, kindness, and plenty everywhere; he beholds hardly any poor, he seldom hears of punishments and executions; and he wonders at the elegance of our towns, those miracles of industry and freedom. He cannot admire enough our rural districts, our convenient roads, good taverns, and our many accommodations; he involuntarily loves a country where everything is so lovely. When in England, he was a mere Englishman; here he stands on a larger portion of the globe, not less than its fourth part, and may see the productions of the north, in iron and naval stores; the provisions of Ireland, the grain of Egypt, the indigo, the rice of China. He does not find, as in Europe, a crowded society, where every place is over-stocked; he does not feel that perpetual collision of parties, that difficulty of beginning, that contention which oversets so many. There is room for everybody in America; has he any particular talent, or industry? he exerts it in order to procure a livelihood, and it succeeds. Is he a merchant? the avenues of trade are infinite; is he eminent in any respect? he will be employed and respected. Does he love a country life? pleasant farms present themselves; he may purchase what he wants, and thereby become an American farmer. Is he a labourer, sober and industrious? he need not go many miles, nor receive many informations before he will be hired, well fed at the table of his employer, and paid four or five times more than he can get in Europe. Does he want uncultivated lands? thousands of acres present themselves, which he may purchase cheap. Whatever be his talents or inclinations, if they are moderate, he may satisfy them. I do not mean that every one who comes will grow rich in a little time; no, but he may procure an easy, decent maintenance, by his industry. Instead of starving he will be fed, instead of being idle he will have employment; and these are riches enough for such men as come over here. The rich stay in Europe, it is only the middling and the poor that emigrate. Would you wish to travel in independent idleness, from north to south, you will find easy access, and the most cheerful reception at every house; society without ostentation, good cheer without pride, and every decent diversion which the country affords, with little expense. It is no wonder that the European who has lived here a few years, is desirous to remain; Europe with all its pomp, is not to be compared to this continent, for men of middle stations, or labourers.

An European, when he first arrives, seems limited in his intentions, as well as in his views; but he very suddenly alters his scale; two hundred miles formerly appeared a very great distance, it is now but a trifle; he no sooner breathes our air than he forms schemes, and embarks in designs he never would have thought of in his own country. There the plenitude of society confines many useful ideas, and often extinguishes the most laudable schemes which here ripen into maturity. Thus Europeans become Americans.

But how is this accomplished in that crowd of low, indigent people, who flock here every year from all parts of Europe? I will tell you; they no sooner arrive than they immediately feel the good effects of that plenty of provisions we possess: they fare on our best food, and they are kindly entertained; their talents, character, and peculiar industry are immediately inquired into; they find countrymen everywhere disseminated, let them come from whatever part of Europe. Let me select one as an epitome of the rest; he is hired, he goes to work, and works moderately; instead of being employed by a haughty person, he finds himself with his equal, placed at the substantial table of the farmer, or else at an inferior one as good; his wages are high, his bed is not like that bed of sorrow on which he used to lie: if he behaves with propriety, and is faithful, he is caressed, and becomes as it were a member of the family. He begins to feel the effects of a sort of resurrection; hitherto he had not lived, but simply vegetated; he now feels himself a man, because he is treated as such; the laws of his own country had overlooked him in his insignificancy; the laws of this cover him with their mantle. Judge what an alteration there must arise in the mind and thoughts of this man; he begins to forget his former servitude and dependence, his heart involuntarily swells and glows; this first swell inspires him with those new thoughts which constitute an American. What love can he entertain for a country where his existence was a burthen to him; if he is a generous good man, the love of this new adoptive parent will sink deep into his heart. He looks around, and sees many a prosperous person, who but a few years before was as poor as himself. This encourages him much, he begins to form some little scheme, the first, alas, he ever formed in his life. If he is wise he thus spends two or three years, in which time he acquires knowledge, the use of tools, the modes of working the lands, felling trees, etc. This prepares the foundation of a good name, the most useful acquisition he can make. He is encouraged, he has gained friends; he is advised and directed, he feels bold, he purchases some land; he gives all the money he has brought over, as well as what he has earned, and trusts to the God of harvests for the discharge of the rest. His good name procures him credit. He is now possessed of the deed, conveying to him and his posterity the fee simple and absolute property of two hundred acres of land, situated on such a river. What an epocha in this man’s life! He is become a freeholder, from perhaps a German boor—he is now an American, a Pennsylvanian, an English subject. He is naturalised, his name is enrolled with those of the other citizens of the province. Instead of being a vagrant, he has a place of residence; he is called the inhabitant of such a county, or of such a district, and for the first time in his life counts for something; for hitherto he has been a cypher. I only repeat what I have heard many say, and no wonder their hearts should glow, and be agitated with a multitude of feelings, not easy to describe. From nothing to start into being; from a servant to the rank of a master; from being the slave of some despotic prince, to become a free man, invested with lands, to which every municipal blessing is annexed! What a change indeed! It is in consequence of that change that he becomes an American. This great metamorphosis has a double effect, it extinguishes all his European prejudices, he forgets that mechanism of subordination, that servility of disposition which poverty had taught him; and sometimes he is apt to forget too much, often passing from one extreme to the other. If he is a good man, he forms schemes of future prosperity, he proposes to educate his children better than he has been educated himself; he thinks of future modes of conduct, feels an ardour to labour he never felt before. Pride steps in and leads him to everything that the laws do not forbid: he respects them; with a heart-felt gratitude he looks toward the east, toward that insular government from whose wisdom all his new felicity is derived, and under whose wings and protection he now lives. These reflections constitute him the good man and the good subject. Ye poor Europeans, ye, who sweat, and work for the great— ye, who are obliged to give so many sheaves to the church, so many to your lords, so many to your government, and have hardly any left for yourselves—ye, who are held in less estimation than favourite hunters or useless lap-dogs—ye, who only breathe the air of nature, because it cannot be withheld from you; it is here that ye can conceive the possibility of those feelings I have been describing; it is here the laws of naturalisation invite every one to partake of our great labours and felicity, to till unrented, untaxed lands! Many, corrupted beyond the power of amendment, have brought with them all their vices, and disregarding the advantages held to them, have gone on in their former career of iniquity, until they have been overtaken and punished by our laws. It is not every emigrant who succeeds; no, it is only the sober, the honest, and industrious: happy those to whom this transition has served as a powerful spur to labour, to prosperity, and to the good establishment of children, born in the days of their poverty; and who had no other portion to expect but the rags of their parents, had it not been for their happy emigration. Others again, have been led astray by this enchanting scene; their new pride, instead of leading them to the fields, has kept them in idleness; the idea of possessing lands is all that satisfies them—though surrounded with fertility, they have mouldered away their time in inactivity, misinformed husbandry, and ineffectual endeavours. How much wiser, in general, the honest Germans than almost all other Europeans; they hire themselves to some of their wealthy landsmen, and in that apprenticeship learn everything that is necessary. They attentively consider the prosperous industry of others, which imprints in their minds a strong desire of possessing the same advantages. This forcible idea never quits them, they launch forth, and by dint of sobriety, rigid parsimony, and the most persevering industry, they commonly succeed. Their astonishment at their first arrival from Germany is very great—it is to them a dream; the contrast must be powerful indeed; they observe their countrymen flourishing in every place; they travel through whole counties where not a word of English is spoken; and in the names and the language of the people, they retrace Germany. They have been an useful acquisition to this continent, and to Pennsylvania in particular; to them it owes some share of its prosperity: to their mechanical knowledge and patience it owes the finest mills in all America, the best teams of horses, and many other advantages. The recollection of their former poverty and slavery never quits them as long as they live.

The Scotch and the Irish might have lived in their own country perhaps as poor, but enjoying more civil advantages, the effects of their new situation do not strike them so forcibly, nor has it so lasting an effect. From whence the difference arises I know not, but out of twelve families of emigrants of each country, generally seven Scotch will succeed, nine German, and four Irish. The Scotch are frugal and laborious, but their wives cannot work so hard as German women, who on the contrary vie with their husbands, and often share with them the most severe toils of the field, which they understand better. They have therefore nothing to struggle against, but the common casualties of nature. The Irish do not prosper so well; they love to drink and to quarrel; they are litigious, and soon take to the gun, which is the ruin of everything; they seem beside to labour under a greater degree of ignorance in husbandry than the others; perhaps it is that their industry had less scope, and was less exercised at home. I have heard many relate, how the land was parcelled out in that kingdom; their ancient conquest has been a great detriment to them, by over-setting their landed property. The lands possessed by a few, are leased down ad infinitum, and the occupiers often pay five guineas an acre. The poor are worse lodged there than anywhere else in Europe; their potatoes, which are easily raised, are perhaps an inducement to laziness: their wages are too low, and their whisky too cheap.

There is no tracing observations of this kind, without making at the same time very great allowances, as there are everywhere to be found, a great many exceptions. The Irish themselves, from different parts of that kingdom, are very different. It is difficult to account for this surprising locality, one would think on so small an island an Irishman must be an Irishman: yet it is not so, they are different in their aptitude to, and in their love of labour.

The Scotch on the contrary are all industrious and saving; they want nothing more than a field to exert themselves in, and they are commonly sure of succeeding. The only difficulty they labour under is, that technical American knowledge which requires some time to obtain; it is not easy for those who seldom saw a tree, to conceive how it is to be felled, cut up, and split into rails and posts.

As I am fond of seeing and talking of prosperous families, I intend to finish this letter by relating to you the history of an honest Scotch Hebridean, who came here in 1774, which will show you in epitome what the Scotch can do, wherever they have room for the exertion of their industry. Whenever I hear of any new settlement, I pay it a visit once or twice a year, on purpose to observe the different steps each settler takes, the gradual improvements, the different tempers of each family, on which their prosperity in a great nature depends; their different modifications of industry, their ingenuity, and contrivance; for being all poor, their life requires sagacity and prudence. In the evening I love to hear them tell their stories, they furnish me with new ideas; I sit still and listen to their ancient misfortunes, observing in many of them a strong degree of gratitude to God, and the government. Many a well meant sermon have I preached to some of them. When I found laziness and inattention to prevail, who could refrain from wishing well to these new countrymen, after having undergone so many fatigues. Who could withhold good advice? What a happy change it must be, to descend from the high, sterile, bleak lands of Scotland, where everything is barren and cold, to rest on some fertile farms in these middle provinces! Such a transition must have afforded the most pleasing satisfaction.

The following dialogue passed at an out-settlement, where I lately paid a visit:

Well, friend, how do you do now; I am come fifty odd miles on purpose to see you; how do you go on with your new cutting and slashing? Very well, good Sir, we learn the use of the axe bravely, we shall make it out; we have a belly full of victuals every day, our cows run about, and come home full of milk, our hogs get fat of themselves in the woods: Oh, this is a good country! God bless the king, and William Penn; we shall do very well by and by, if we keep our healths. Your loghouse looks neat and light, where did you get these shingles? One of our neighbours is a New-England man, and he showed us how to split them out of chestnut-trees. Now for a barn, but all in good time, here are fine trees to build with. Who is to frame it, sure you don’t understand that work yet? A countryman of ours who has been in America these ten years, offers to wait for his money until the second crop is lodged in it. What did you give for your land? Thirty-five shillings per acre, payable in seven years. How many acres have you got? An hundred and fifty. That is enough to begin with; is not your land pretty hard to clear? Yes, Sir, hard enough, but it would be harder still if it were ready cleared, for then we should have no timber, and I love the woods much; the land is nothing without them. Have not you found out any bees yet? No, Sir; and if we had we should not know what to do with them. I will tell you by and by. You are very kind. Farewell, honest man, God prosper you; whenever you travel toward——, inquire for J.S. He will entertain you kindly, provided you bring him good tidings from your family and farm. In this manner I often visit them, and carefully examine their houses, their modes of ingenuity, their different ways; and make them all relate all they know, and describe all they feel. These are scenes which I believe you would willingly share with me. I well remember your philanthropic turn of mind. Is it not better to contemplate under these humble roofs, the rudiments of future wealth and population, than to behold the accumulated bundles of litigious papers in the office of a lawyer? To examine how the world is gradually settled, how the howling swamp is converted into a pleasing meadow, the rough ridge into a fine field; and to hear the cheerful whistling, the rural song, where there was no sound heard before, save the yell of the savage, the screech of the owl or the hissing of the snake? Here an European, fatigued with luxury, riches, and pleasures, may find a sweet relaxation in a series of interesting scenes, as affecting as they are new. England, which now contains so many domes, so many castles, was once like this; a place woody and marshy; its inhabitants, now the favourite nation for arts and commerce, were once painted like our neighbours. The country will nourish in its turn, and the same observations will be made which I have just delineated. Posterity will look back with avidity and pleasure, to trace, if possible, the era of this or that particular settlement.

Pray, what is the reason that the Scots are in general more religious, more faithful, more honest, and industrious than the Irish? I do not mean to insinuate national reflections, God forbid! It ill becomes any man, and much less an American; but as I know men are nothing of themselves, and that they owe all their different modifications either to government or other local circumstances, there must be some powerful causes which constitute this great national difference.

Agreeable to the account which several Scotchmen have given me of the north of Britain, of the Orkneys, and the Hebride Islands, they seem, on many accounts, to be unfit for the habitation of men; they appear to be calculated only for great sheep pastures. Who then can blame the inhabitants of these countries for transporting themselves hither? This great continent must in time absorb the poorest part of Europe; and this will happen in proportion as it becomes better known; and as war, taxation, oppression, and misery increase there. The Hebrides appear to be fit only for the residence of malefactors, and it would be much better to send felons there than either to Virginia or Maryland. What a strange compliment has our mother country paid to two of the finest provinces in America! England has entertained in that respect very mistaken ideas; what was intended as a punishment, is become the good fortune of several; many of those who have been transported as felons, are now rich, and strangers to the stings of those wants that urged them to violations of the law: they are become industrious, exemplary, and useful citizens. The English government should purchase the most northern and barren of those islands; it should send over to us the honest, primitive Hebrideans, settle them here on good lands, as a reward for their virtue and ancient poverty; and replace them with a colony of her wicked sons. The severity of the climate, the inclemency of the seasons, the sterility of the soil, the tempestuousness of the sea, would afflict and punish enough. Could there be found a spot better adapted to retaliate the injury it had received by their crimes? Some of those islands might be considered as the hell of Great Britain, where all evil spirits should be sent. Two essential ends would be answered by this simple operation. The good people, by emigration, would be rendered happier; the bad ones would be placed where they ought to be. In a few years the dread of being sent to that wintry region would have a much stronger effect than that of transportation.—This is no place of punishment; were I a poor hopeless, breadless Englishman, and not restrained by the power of shame, I should be very thankful for the passage. It is of very little importance how, and in what manner an indigent man arrives; for if he is but sober, honest, and industrious, he has nothing more to ask of heaven. Let him go to work, he will have opportunities enough to earn a comfortable support, and even the means of procuring some land; which ought to be the utmost wish of every person who has health and hands to work. I knew a man who came to this country, in the literal sense of the expression, stark naked; I think he was a Frenchman, and a sailor on board an English man-of- war. Being discontented, he had stripped himself and swam ashore; where, finding clothes and friends, he settled afterwards at Maraneck, in the county of Chester, in the province of New York: he married and left a good farm to each of his sons. I knew another person who was but twelve years old when he was taken on the frontiers of Canada, by the Indians; at his arrival at Albany he was purchased by a gentleman, who generously bound him apprentice to a tailor. He lived to the age of ninety, and left behind him a fine estate and a numerous family, all well settled; many of them I am acquainted with.—Where is then the industrious European who ought to despair?

After a foreigner from any part of Europe is arrived, and become a citizen; let him devoutly listen to the voice of our great parent, which says to him, “Welcome to my shores, distressed European; bless the hour in which thou didst see my verdant fields, my fair navigable rivers, and my green mountains!—If thou wilt work, I have bread for thee; if thou wilt be honest, sober, and industrious, I have greater rewards to confer on thee—ease and independence. I will give thee fields to feed and clothe thee; a comfortable fireside to sit by, and tell thy children by what means thou hast prospered; and a decent bed to repose on. I shall endow thee beside with the immunities of a freeman. If thou wilt carefully educate thy children, teach them gratitude to God, and reverence to that government, that philanthropic government, which has collected here so many men and made them happy. I will also provide for thy progeny; and to every good man this ought to be the most holy, the most powerful, the most earnest wish he can possibly form, as well as the most consolatory prospect when he dies. Go thou and work and till; thou shalt prosper, provided thou be just, grateful, and industrious.”

HISTORY OF ANDREW, THE HEBRIDEAN

Let historians give the detail of our charters, the succession of our several governors, and of their administrations; of our political struggles, and of the foundation of our towns: let annalists amuse themselves with collecting anecdotes of the establishment of our modern provinces: eagles soar high—I, a feebler bird, cheerfully content myself with skipping from bush to bush, and living on insignificant insects. I am so habituated to draw all my food and pleasure from the surface of the earth which I till, that I cannot, nor indeed am I able to quit it—I therefore present you with the short history of a simple Scotchman; though it contain not a single remarkable event to amaze the reader; no tragical scene to convulse the heart, or pathetic narrative to draw tears from sympathetic eyes. All I wish to delineate is, the progressive steps of a poor man, advancing from indigence to ease; from oppression to freedom; from obscurity and contumely to some degree of consequence—not by virtue of any freaks of fortune, but by the gradual operation of sobriety, honesty, and emigration. These are the limited fields, through which I love to wander; sure to find in some parts, the smile of new-born happiness, the glad heart, inspiring the cheerful song, the glow of manly pride excited by vivid hopes and rising independence. I always return from my neighbourly excursions extremely happy, because there I see good living almost under every roof, and prosperous endeavours almost in every field. But you may say, why don’t you describe some of the more ancient, opulent settlements of our country, where even the eye of an European has something to admire? It is true, our American fields are in general pleasing to behold, adorned and intermixed as they are with so many substantial houses, flourishing orchards, and copses of woodlands; the pride of our farms, the source of every good we possess. But what I might observe there is but natural and common; for to draw comfortable subsistence from well fenced cultivated fields, is easy to conceive. A father dies and leaves a decent house and rich farm to his son; the son modernises the one, and carefully tills the other; marries the daughter of a friend and neighbour: this is the common prospect; but though it is rich and pleasant, yet it is far from being so entertaining and instructive as the one now in my view.

I had rather attend on the shore to welcome the poor European when he arrives, I observe him in his first moments of embarrassment, trace him throughout his primary difficulties, follow him step by step, until he pitches his tent on some piece of land, and realises that energetic wish which has made him quit his native land, his kindred, and induced him to traverse a boisterous ocean. It is there I want to observe his first thoughts and feelings, the first essays of an industry, which hitherto has been suppressed. I wish to see men cut down the first trees, erect their new buildings, till their first fields, reap their first crops, and say for the first time in their lives, “This is our own grain, raised from American soil—on it we shall feed and grow fat, and convert the rest into gold and silver.” I want to see how the happy effects of their sobriety, honesty, and industry are first displayed: and who would not take a pleasure in seeing these strangers settling as new countrymen, struggling with arduous difficulties, overcoming them, and becoming happy.

Landing on this great continent is like going to sea, they must have a compass, some friendly directing needle; or else they will uselessly err and wander for a long time, even with a fair wind: yet these are the struggles through which our forefathers have waded; and they have left us no other records of them, but the possession of our farms. The reflections I make on these new settlers recall to my mind what my grandfather did in his days; they fill me with gratitude to his memory as well as to that government, which invited him to come, and helped him when he arrived, as well as many others. Can I pass over these reflections without remembering thy name, O Penn! thou best of legislators; who by the wisdom of thy laws hast endowed human nature, within the bounds of thy province, with every dignity it can possibly enjoy in a civilised state; and showed by thy singular establishment, what all men might be if they would follow thy example!

In the year 1770, I purchased some lands in the county of——, which I intended for one of my sons; and was obliged to go there in order to see them properly surveyed and marked out: the soil is good, but the country has a very wild aspect. However I observed with pleasure, that land sells very fast; and I am in hopes when the lad gets a wife, it will be a well-settled decent country. Agreeable to our customs, which indeed are those of nature, it is our duty to provide for our eldest children while we live, in order that our homesteads may be left to the youngest, who are the most helpless. Some people are apt to regard the portions given to daughters as so much lost to the family; but this is selfish, and is not agreeable to my way of thinking; they cannot work as men do; they marry young: I have given an honest European a farm to till for himself, rent free, provided he clears an acre of swamp every year, and that he quits it whenever my daughter shall marry. It will procure her a substantial husband, a good farmer—and that is all my ambition.

Whilst I was in the woods I met with a party of Indians; I shook hands with them, and I perceived they had killed a cub; I had a little Peach brandy, they perceived it also, we therefore joined company, kindled a large fire, and ate an hearty supper. I made their hearts glad, and we all reposed on good beds of leaves. Soon after dark, I was surprised to hear a prodigious hooting through the woods; the Indians laughed heartily. One of them, more skilful than the rest, mimicked the owls so exactly, that a very large one perched on a high tree over our fire. We soon brought him down; he measured five feet seven inches from one extremity of the wings to the other. By Captain——I have sent you the talons, on which I have had the heads of small candlesticks fixed. Pray keep them on the table of your study for my sake.

Contrary to my expectation, I found myself under the necessity of going to Philadelphia, in order to pay the purchase money, and to have the deeds properly recorded. I thought little of the journey, though it was above two hundred miles, because I was well acquainted with many friends, at whose houses I intended to stop. The third night after I left the woods, I put up at Mr.——’s, the most worthy citizen I know; he happened to lodge at my house when you was there.—He kindly inquired after your welfare, and desired I would make a friendly mention of him to you. The neatness of these good people is no phenomenon, yet I think this excellent family surpasses everything I know. No sooner did I lie down to rest than I thought myself in a most odoriferous arbour, so sweet and fragrant were the sheets. Next morning I found my host in the orchard destroying caterpillars. I think, friend B., said I, that thee art greatly departed from the good rules of the society; thee seemeth to have quitted that happy simplicity for which it hath hitherto been so remarkable. Thy rebuke, friend James, is a pretty heavy one; what motive canst thee have for thus accusing us? Thy kind wife made a mistake last evening, I said; she put me on a bed of roses, instead of a common one; I am not used to such delicacies. And is that all, friend James, that thee hast to reproach us with?—Thee wilt not call it luxury I hope? thee canst but know that it is the produce of our garden; and friend Pope sayeth, that “to enjoy is to obey.” This is a most learned excuse indeed, friend B., and must be valued because it is founded upon truth. James, my wife hath done nothing more to thy bed than what is done all the year round to all the beds in the family; she sprinkles her linen with rose-water before she puts it under the press; it is her fancy, and I have nought to say. But thee shalt not escape so, verily I will send for her; thee and she must settle the matter, whilst I proceed on my work, before the sun gets too high.—Tom, go thou and call thy mistress Philadelphia. What. said I, is thy wife called by that name? I did not know that before. I’ll tell thee, James, how it came to pass: her grandmother was the first female child born after William Penn landed with the rest of our brethren; and in compliment to the city he intended to build, she was called after the name he intended to give it; and so there is always one of the daughters of her family known by the name of Philadelphia. She soon came, and after a most friendly altercation, I gave up the point; breakfasted, departed, and in four days reached the city.

A week after news came that a vessel was arrived with Scotch emigrants. Mr. C. and I went to the dock to see them disembark. It was a scene which inspired me with a variety of thoughts; here are, said I to my friend, a number of people, driven by poverty, and other adverse causes, to a foreign land, in which they know nobody. The name of a stranger, instead of implying relief, assistance, and kindness, on the contrary, conveys very different ideas. They are now distressed; their minds are racked by a variety of apprehensions, fears, and hopes. It was this last powerful sentiment which has brought them here. If they are good people, I pray that heaven may realise them. Whoever were to see them thus gathered again in five or six years, would behold a more pleasing sight, to which this would serve as a very powerful contrast. By their honesty, the vigour of their arms, and the benignity of government, their condition will be greatly improved; they will be well clad, fat, possessed of that manly confidence which property confers; they will become useful citizens. Some of the posterity may act conspicuous parts in our future American transactions. Most of them appeared pale and emaciated, from the length of the passage, and the indifferent provision on which they had lived. The number of children seemed as great as that of the people; they had all paid for being conveyed here. The captain told us they were a quiet, peaceable, and harmless people, who had never dwelt in cities. This was a valuable cargo; they seemed, a few excepted, to be in the full vigour of their lives. Several citizens, impelled either by spontaneous attachments, or motives of humanity, took many of them to their houses; the city, agreeable to its usual wisdom and humanity, ordered them all to be lodged in the barracks, and plenty of provisions to be given them. My friend pitched upon one also and led him to his house, with his wife, and a son about fourteen years of age. The majority of them had contracted for land the year before, by means of an agent; the rest depended entirely upon chance; and the one who followed us was of this last class. Poor man, he smiled on receiving the invitation, and gladly accepted it, bidding his wife and son do the same, in a language which I did not understand. He gazed with uninterrupted attention on everything he saw; the houses, the inhabitants, the negroes, and carriages: everything appeared equally new to him; and we went slow, in order to give him time to feed on this pleasing variety. Good God! said he, is this Philadelphia, that blessed city of bread and provisions, of which we have heard so much? I am told it was founded the same year in which my father was born; why, it is finer than Greenock and Glasgow, which are ten times as old. It is so, said my friend to him, and when thee hast been here a month, thee will soon see that it is the capital of a fine province, of which thee art going to be a citizen: Greenock enjoys neither such a climate nor such a soil. Thus we slowly proceeded along, when we met several large Lancaster six-horse waggons, just arrived from the country. At this stupendous sight he stopped short, and with great diffidence asked us what was the use of these great moving houses, and where those big horses came from? Have you none such at home, I asked him? Oh, no; these huge animals would eat all the grass of our island! We at last reached my friend’s house, who in the glow of well-meant hospitality, made them all three sit down to a good dinner, and gave them as much cider as they could drink. God bless this country, and the good people it contains, said he; this is the best meal’s victuals I have made a long time.—I thank you kindly.

What part of Scotland dost thee come from, friend Andrew, said Mr. C.? Some of us come from the main, some from the island of Barra, he answered—I myself am a Barra man. I looked on the map, and by its latitude, easily guessed that it must be an inhospitable climate. What sort of land have you got there, I asked him? Bad enough, said he; we have no such trees as I see here, no wheat, no kine, no apples. Then, I observed, that it must be hard for the poor to live. We have no poor, he answered, we are all alike, except our laird; but he cannot help everybody. Pray what is the name of your laird? Mr. Neiel, said Andrew; the like of him is not to be found in any of the isles; his forefathers have lived there thirty generations ago, as we are told. Now, gentlemen, you may judge what an ancient family estate it must be. But it is cold, the land is thin, and there were too many of us, which are the reasons that some are come to seek their fortunes here. Well, Andrew, what step do you intend to take in order to become rich? I do not know, Sir; I am but an ignorant man, a stranger besides—I must rely on the advice of good Christians, they would not deceive me, I am sure. I have brought with me a character from our Barra minister, can it do me any good here? Oh, yes; but your future success will depend entirely on your own conduct; if you are a sober man, as the certificate says, laborious, and honest, there is no fear but that you will do well. Have you brought any money with you, Andrew? Yes, Sir, eleven guineas and an half. Upon my word it is a considerable sum for a Barra man; how came you by so much money? Why seven years ago I received a legacy of thirty-seven pounds from an uncle, who loved me much; my wife brought me two guineas, when the laird gave her to me for a wife, which I have saved ever since. I have sold all I had; I worked in Glasgow for some time. I am glad to hear you are so saving and prudent; be so still; you must go and hire yourself with some good people; what can you do? I can thresh a little, and handle the spade. Can you plough? Yes, Sir, with the little breast plough I have brought with me. These won’t do here, Andrew; you are an able man; if you are willing you will soon learn. I’ll tell you what I intend to do; I’ll send you to my house, where you shall stay two or three weeks, there you must exercise yourself with the axe, that is the principal tool the Americans want, and particularly the back- settlers. Can your wife spin? Yes, she can. Well then as soon as you are able to handle the axe, you shall go and live with Mr. P. R., a particular friend of mine, who will give you four dollars per month, for the first six, and the usual price of five as long as you remain with him. I shall place your wife in another house, where she shall receive half a dollar a week for spinning; and your son a dollar a month to drive the team. You shall have besides good victuals to eat, and good beds to lie on; will all this satisfy you, Andrew? He hardly understood what I said; the honest tears of gratitude fell from his eyes as he looked at me, and its expressions seemed to quiver on his lips.—Though silent, this was saying a great deal; there was besides something extremely moving to see a man six feet high thus shed tears; and they did not lessen the good opinion I had entertained of him. At last he told me, that my offers were more than he deserved, and that he would first begin to work for his victuals. No, no, said I, if you are careful and sober, and do what you can, you shall receive what I told you, after you have served a short apprenticeship at my house. May God repay you for all your kindnesses, said Andrew; as long as I live I shall thank you, and do what I can for you. A few days after I sent them all three to——, by the return of some waggons, that he might have an opportunity of viewing, and convincing himself of the utility of those machines which he had at first so much admired.

The further descriptions he gave us of the Hebrides in general, and of his native island in particular; of the customs and modes of living of the inhabitants; greatly entertained me. Pray is the sterility of the soil the cause that there are no trees, or is it because there are none planted? What are the modern families of all the kings of the earth, compared to the date of that of Mr. Neiel? Admitting that each generation should last but forty years, this makes a period of 1200; an extraordinary duration for the uninterrupted descent of any family! Agreeably to the description he gave us of those countries, they seem to live according to the rules of nature, which gives them but bare subsistence; their constitutions are uncontaminated by any excess or effeminacy, which their soil refuses. If their allowance of food is not too scanty, they must all be healthy by perpetual temperance and exercise; if so, they are amply rewarded for their poverty. Could they have obtained but necessary food, they would not have left it; for it was not in consequence of oppression, either from their patriarch or the government, that they had emigrated. I wish we had a colony of these honest people settled in some parts of this province; their morals, their religion, seem to be as simple as their manners. This society would present an interesting spectacle could they be transported on a richer soil. But perhaps that soil would soon alter everything; for our opinions, vices, and virtues, are altogether local: we are machines fashioned by every circumstance around us.

Andrew arrived at my house a week before I did, and I found my wife, agreeable to my instructions, had placed the axe in his hands, as his first task. For some time he was very awkward, but he was so docile, so willing, and grateful, as well as his wife, that I foresaw he would succeed. Agreeably to my promise, I put them all with different families, where they were well liked, and all parties were pleased. Andrew worked hard, lived well, grew fat, and every Sunday came to pay me a visit on a good horse, which Mr. P. R. lent him. Poor man, it took him a long time ere he could sit on the saddle and hold the bridle properly. I believe he had never before mounted such a beast, though I did not choose to ask him that question, for fear it might suggest some mortifying ideas. After having been twelve months at Mr. P. R.’s, and having received his own and his family’s wages, which amounted to eighty-four dollars; he came to see me on a week-day, and told me, that he was a man of middle age, and would willingly have land of his own, in order to procure him a home, as a shelter against old age: that whenever this period should come, his son, to whom he would give his land, would then maintain him, and thus live altogether; he therefore required my advice and assistance. I thought his desire very natural and praiseworthy, and told him that I should think of it, but that he must remain one month longer with Mr. P. R., who had 3000 rails to split. He immediately consented. The spring was not far advanced enough yet for Andrew to begin clearing any land even supposing that he had made a purchase; as it is always necessary that the leaves should be out, in order that this additional combustible may serve to burn the heaps of brush more readily.

A few days after, it happened that the whole family of Mr. P. R. went to meeting, and left Andrew to take care of the house. While he was at the door, attentively reading the Bible, nine Indians just come from the mountains, suddenly made their appearance, and unloaded their packs of furs on the floor of the piazza. Conceive, if you can, what was Andrew’s consternation at this extraordinary sight! From the singular appearance of these people, the honest Hebridean took them for a lawless band come to rob his master’s house. He therefore, like a faithful guardian, precipitately withdrew and shut the doors, but as most of our houses are without locks, he was reduced to the necessity of fixing his knife over the latch, and then flew upstairs in quest of a broadsword he had brought from Scotland. The Indians, who were Mr. P. R.’s particular friends, guessed at his suspicions and fears; they forcibly lifted the door, and suddenly took possession of the house, got all the bread and meat they wanted, and sat themselves down by the fire. At this instant Andrew, with his broadsword in his hand, entered the room; the Indians earnestly looking at him, and attentively watching his motions. After a very few reflections, Andrew found that his weapon was useless, when opposed to nine tomahawks; but this did not diminish his anger, on the contrary; it grew greater on observing the calm impudence with which they were devouring the family provisions. Unable to resist, he called them names in broad Scotch, and ordered them to desist and be gone; to which the Indians (as they told me afterwards) replied in their equally broad idiom. It must have been a most unintelligible altercation between this honest Barra man, and nine Indians who did not much care for anything he could say. At last he ventured to lay his hands on one of them, in order to turn him out of the house. Here Andrew’s fidelity got the better of his prudence; for the Indian, by his motions, threatened to scalp him, while the rest gave the war hoop. This horrid noise so effectually frightened poor Andrew, that, unmindful of his courage, of his broadsword, and his intentions, he rushed out, left them masters of the house, and disappeared. I have heard one of the Indians say since, that he never laughed so heartily in his life. Andrew at a distance, soon recovered from the fears which had been inspired by this infernal yell, and thought of no other remedy than to go to the meeting-house, which was about two miles distant. In the eagerness of his honest intentions, with looks of affright still marked on his countenance, he called Mr. P. R. out, and told him with great vehemence of style, that nine monsters were come to his house—some blue, some red, and some black; that they had little axes in their hands out of which they smoked; and that like highlanders, they had no breeches; that they were devouring all his victuals, and that God only knew what they would do more. Pacify yourself, said Mr. P. R., my house is as safe with these people, as if I was there myself; as for the victuals, they are heartily welcome, honest Andrew; they are not people of much ceremony; they help themselves thus whenever they are among their friends; I do so too in their wigwams, whenever I go to their village: you had better therefore step in and hear the remainder of the sermon, and when the meeting is over we will all go back in the waggon together.

At their return, Mr. P. R., who speaks the Indian language very well, explained the whole matter; the Indians renewed their laugh, and shook hands with honest Andrew, whom they made to smoke out of their pipes; and thus peace was made, and ratified according to the Indian custom, by the calumet.

Soon after this adventure, the time approached when I had promised Andrew my best assistance to settle him; for that purpose I went to Mr. A. V. in the county of——, who, I was informed, had purchased a tract of land, contiguous to——settlement. I gave him a faithful detail of the progress Andrew had made in the rural arts; of his honesty, sobriety, and gratitude, and pressed him to sell him an hundred acres. This I cannot comply with, said Mr. A. V., but at the same time I will do better; I love to encourage honest Europeans as much as you do, and to see them prosper: you tell me he has but one son; I will lease them an hundred acres for any term of years you please, and make it more valuable to your Scotchman than if he was possessed of the fee simple. By that means he may, with what little money he has, buy a plough, a team, and some stock; he will not be incumbered with debts and mortgages; what he raises will be his own; had he two or three sons as able as himself, then I should think it more eligible for him to purchase the fee simple. I join with you in opinion, and will bring Andrew along with me in a few days.

Well, honest Andrew, said Mr. A. V., in consideration of your good name, I will let you have an hundred acres of good arable land, that shall be laid out along a new road; there is a bridge already erected on the creek that passes through the land, and a fine swamp of about twenty acres. These are my terms, I cannot sell, but I will lease you the quantity that Mr. James, your friend, has asked; the first seven years you shall pay no rent, whatever you sow and reap, and plant and gather, shall be entirely your own; neither the king, government, nor church, will have any claim on your future property: the remaining part of the time you must give me twelve dollars and an half a year; and that is all you will have to pay me. Within the three first years you must plant fifty apple trees, and clear seven acres of swamp within the first part of the lease; it will be your own advantage: whatever you do more within that time, I will pay you for it, at the common rate of the country. The term of the lease shall be thirty years; how do you like it, Andrew? Oh, Sir, it is very good, but I am afraid, that the king or his ministers, or the governor, or some of our great men, will come and take the land from me; your son may say to me, by and by, this is my father’s land, Andrew, you must quit it. No, no, said Mr. A. V., there is no such danger; the king and his ministers are too just to take the labour of a poor settler; here we have no great men, but what are subordinate to our laws; but to calm all your fears, I will give you a lease, so that none can make you afraid. If ever you are dissatisfied with the land, a jury of your own neighbourhood shall value all your improvements, and you shall be paid agreeably to their verdict. You may sell the lease, or if you die, you may previously dispose of it, as if the land was your own. Expressive, yet inarticulate joy, was mixed in his countenance, which seemed impressed with astonishment and confusion. Do you understand me well, said Mr. A. V.? No, Sir, replied Andrew, I know nothing of what you mean about lease, improvement, will, jury, etc. That is honest, we will explain these things to you by and by. It must be confessed that those were hard words, which he had never heard in his life; for by his own account, the ideas they convey would be totally useless in the island of Barra. No wonder, therefore, that he was embarrassed; for how could the man who had hardly a will of his own since he was born, imagine he could have one after his death? How could the person who never possessed anything, conceive that he could extend his new dominion over this land, even after he should be laid in his grave? For my part, I think Andrew’s amazement did not imply any extraordinary degree of ignorance; he was an actor introduced upon a new scene, it required some time ere he could reconcile himself to the part he was to perform. However he was soon enlightened, and introduced into those mysteries with which we native Americans are but too well acquainted.

Here then is honest Andrew, invested with every municipal advantage they confer; become a freeholder, possessed of a vote, of a place of residence, a citizen of the province of Pennsylvania. Andrew’s original hopes and the distant prospects he had formed in the island of Barra, were at the eve of being realised; we therefore can easily forgive him a few spontaneous ejaculations, which would be useless to repeat. This short tale is easily told; few words are sufficient to describe this sudden change of situation; but in his mind it was gradual, and took him above a week before he could be sure, that without disturbing any money he could possess lands. Soon after he prepared himself; I lent him a barrel of pork, and 200 lb. weight of meal, and made him purchase what was necessary besides.

He set out, and hired a room in the house of a settler who lived the most contiguous to his own land. His first work was to clear some acres of swamp, that he might have a supply of hay the following year for his two horses and cows. From the first day he began to work, he was indefatigable; his honesty procured him friends, and his industry the esteem of his new neighbours. One of them offered him two acres of cleared land, whereon he might plant corn, pumpkins, squashes, and a few potatoes, that very season. It is astonishing how quick men will learn when they work for themselves. I saw with pleasure two months after, Andrew holding a two-horse plough and tracing his furrows quite straight; thus the spade man of the island of Barra was become the tiller of American soil. Well done, said I, Andrew, well done; I see that God speeds and directs your works; I see prosperity delineated in all your furrows and head lands. Raise this crop of corn with attention and care, and then you will be master of the art.

As he had neither mowing nor reaping to do that year, I told him that the time was come to build his house; and that for the purpose I would myself invite the neighbourhood to a frolic; that thus he would have a large dwelling erected, and some upland cleared in one day. Mr. P. R., his old friend, came at the time appointed, with all his hands, and brought victuals in plenty: I did the same. About forty people repaired to the spot; the songs, and merry stories, went round the woods from cluster to cluster, as the people had gathered to their different works; trees fell on all sides, bushes were cut up and heaped; and while many were thus employed, others with their teams hauled the big logs to the spot which Andrew had pitched upon for the erection of his new dwelling. We all dined in the woods; in the afternoon the logs were placed with skids, and the usual contrivances: thus the rude house was raised, and above two acres of land cut up, cleared, and heaped.

Whilst all these different operations were performing, Andrew was absolutely incapable of working; it was to him the most solemn holiday he had ever seen; it would have been sacrilegious in him to have denied it with menial labour. Poor man, he sanctified it with joy and thanksgiving, and honest libations—he went from one to the other with the bottle in his hand, pressing everybody to drink, and drinking himself to show the example. He spent the whole day in smiling, laughing, and uttering monosyllables: his wife and son were there also, but as they could not understand the language, their pleasure must have been altogether that of the imagination. The powerful lord, the wealthy merchant, on seeing the superb mansion finished, never can feel half the joy and real happiness which was felt and enjoyed on that day by this honest Hebridean: though this new dwelling, erected in the midst of the woods, was nothing more than a square inclosure, composed of twenty-four large clumsy logs, let in at the ends. When the work was finished, the company made the woods resound with the noise of their three cheers, and the honest wishes they formed for Andrew’s prosperity. He could say nothing, but with thankful tears he shook hands with them all. Thus from the first day he had landed, Andrew marched towards this important event: this memorable day made the sun shine on that land on which he was to sow wheat and other grain. What swamp he had cleared lay before his door; the essence of future bread, milk, and meat, were scattered all round him. Soon after he hired a carpenter, who put on a roof and laid the floors; in a week more the house was properly plastered, and the chimney finished. He moved into it, and purchased two cows, which found plenty of food in the woods—his hogs had the same advantage. That very year, he and his son sowed three bushels of wheat, from which he reaped ninety-one and a half; for I had ordered him to keep an exact account of all he should raise. His first crop of other corn would have been as good, had it not been for the squirrels, which were enemies not to be dispersed by the broadsword. The fourth year I took an inventory of the wheat this man possessed, which I send you. Soon after, further settlements were made on that road, and Andrew, instead of being the last man towards the wilderness, found himself in a few years in the middle of a numerous society. He helped others as generously as others had helped him; and I have dined many times at his table with several of his neighbours. The second year he was made overseer of the road, and served on two petty juries, performing as a citizen all the duties required of him. The historiographer of some great prince or general, does not bring his hero victorious to the end of a successful campaign, with one half of the heart-felt pleasure with which I have conducted Andrew to the situation he now enjoys: he is independent and easy. Triumph and military honours do not always imply those two blessings. He is unencumbered with debts, services, rents, or any other dues; the successes of a campaign, the laurels of war, must be purchased at the dearest rate, which makes every cool reflecting citizen to tremble and shudder. By the literal account hereunto annexed, you will easily be made acquainted with the happy effects which constantly flow, in this country, from sobriety and industry, when united with good land and freedom.

The account of the property he acquired with his own hands and those of his son, in four years, is under:

Dollars

 The value of his improvements and lease 225
Six cows, at 13 dollars 78
Two breeding mares 50
The rest of the stock 100
Seventy-three bushels of wheat 66
Money due to him on notes 43
Pork and beef in his cellar 28
Wool and flax 19
Ploughs and other utensils of husbandry 31
—-
240 pounds Pennsylvania currency—dollars 640

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Jack Donovan’s Becoming a Barbarian

Jack Donovan has finally released the sequel to his smashing hit, The Way of MenThe sequel to his manifesto about masculinity is Becoming a Barbarian. Donovan even suggests that the reader should read The Way of Men prior to reading Becoming a Barbarian. In The Way of Men, Donovan mentions that the ‘gang’ is the way of men. In essence, a gang is a tribe of men who share the same set of values. In his sequel, Becoming a Barbarian, Donovan lays out his blueprint for how men can go about forming their own tribes and becoming modern day version of the barbarian. 

In the first chapter, Donovan revisits masculinity and defining it. His understanding of masculinity is crucial for understanding his philosophy on tribalism.

Understanding masculinity means understanding that men can only reach their greatest potential through vital conflict and competition with other men… Human masculinity – the testing and proving of strength, courage, mastery and the desire to earn the respect of a given group of men – requires conflict to thrive, but also to survive… Eternal peace is the death of manliness.

Donovan goes on to proclaim that universalism is the death of masculinity because without separation there cannot be conflict and without conflict there can be no meaningful masculinity.

The essence of Donovan’s masculinity is tribalism. He expands on this further by making it a point to distinguish between “us” and “them” which is very similar to Carl Schmitt’s friend-enemy distinction in The Concept of the Political. Donovan’s work is very much a critique of utopian liberalism.

Donovan goes on to talk about what he calls the “Empire of Nothing” which consists of modern Western governments and corporations that are Hellbent on promoting global free trade, open borders immigration, and multiculturalism. Since the Empire of Nothing is concerned with facilitating corporate profits, it is in their best interest to encourage moral universalism – to treat all individuals regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, etc as all belonging to the same in-group.

As you can imagine, tribalism interrupts the regularly scheduled programming of the Empire of Nothing. The Empire of Nothing has no need for exclusive forms of identity. To be exclusive means to exclude and when you are driven by the need to increase corporate profit margins, being exclusive means potentially losing profits. To the Empire of Nothing, these provincial identities are an inconvenience. They’re in the way.

Since there is nowhere left on this planet to escape the reach of the Empire of Nothing, we must work towards becoming barbarians. In Ancient Greek, to be a barbarian meant to be an outsider. In today’s context, to be a barbarian means to reject the universalism of the Empire of Nothing. First, we must do this by defining who “we” are. Who is our “us” and who is our “them”? Once we know who “we” are, then we can work on building social networks and relationships that are not dictated by the Empire.

Donovan then goes on to critique individualism. An individual is nothing without a tribe. An individual is a threat to no one. The lonely nutter can lash out all he wants at corporations or governments and he will be rightly dismissed. He has no ability to influence any of these corporate or governmental bureaucracies. Individualists, ironically, are very much dependent on the institutions of the Empire. Being a lone wolf does not make one a great man, being a leader does. In order to be a leader, one needs men to lead, he needs a tribe. To belong to a tribe means to belong to something greater than yourself.

Donovan then goes on to have the reader let go of the idea that we should be concerned about all of the human suffering in the world. There are over 7 billion people on this planet. We simply do not have the energy to care about the plight of every human being on the planet. Not only that but universal love is worthless. To spread your love over billions of people dilutes and waters down the meaning of what love is. To only love those who you truly care about, your tribe, is to make that love more potent. If they are not your people, then it is not your problem.

The next important step is shifting our moral gears as Donovan puts it. We must reject the moral universalism and the slave morality of the Empire of Nothing. We must reject the lie of “universal good” for there is only one good – and that is what is good for “us”. We only have one responsibility in this world and that is to our tribe.

Donovan says we do not have to be apologetic for taking our own side. Let the cucks – the Universalist man – attempt to care and take responsibility for all of the people on this planet. He will flagellate himself into oblivion and ultimately he will fail. There are few reasons, if any, to engage our ideological opponents and attempt to convince them of anything.

Since we are becoming the barbarians within the Empire of Nothing, Donovan recommends that we do what barbarians are known for doing – looting and pillaging! Since we have defined our “us” we know that the Empire is the “them” and we should do whatever is in our power to take advantage of them. We cannot go completely off the grid in the current environment, it is impossible. Instead, use whatever resources the Empire makes available to us towards strengthening our tribe. You owe nothing to your government and you owe nothing to your corporate overlords. Use and abuse them for your benefit. They are not “us” so who cares what happens to them.

Now we have defined our who we are and worked towards building a tribe and strengthening it. Donovan leaves us with some parting words,

The Empire of Nothing has created an emptiness where anything can happen, where magic and creation can happen…

So go out there with your tribe, become the barbarians and start the world!

As featured on Counter-Currents

 

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